According to a recent article in Campus Technology by Dian Schaffhauser, if you’re waiting for textbooks to be free, take a class at the University of Maryland University College. By this fall, 84,000 students will save a collective $10 million per year. More than 700 courses will have figured out how to piece together Open Education Resources (OER), by taking a little from here and a little from there under Creative Commons licenses. Most of us have done this to some extent in our classes; used YouTube videos, passages from free Google books, scholarly articles in education databases, or entire books and lectures released for public consumption. The faculty at this university must be experts in finding digital content and pairing it with course objectives. Their goal was to redesign their courses, with no textbook cost to the student. However, the institution was able to augment their content repositories with subscriptions to additional library databases, and licensing some content still under copyright.
Does this mean no more college textbooks to move out of your apartment when you graduate? Unless a student remembers to download and save the digital content, most often, access to it ceases when you graduate. Does it mean faculty can change content on the fly, and not wait for a new edition of a textbook that contains the correct date for President Lincoln’s swearing in ceremony?
Open Education Resources
- Cool 4 Ed
A collaboration among UC, CSU and CCC faculty, facilitating peer review of open textbooks which are showcased in the California Open Source Digital Library.
- Open Education Consortium
A global network of educational institutions, individuals, and organizations that promote and provide open educational materials, including open textbooks.
- OER Commons
Includes educational resources reviewed by digital librarians.