Open textbooks become popular source of affordable content
- Colleges and universities are paying attention to affordable alternatives to traditional textbooks as their costs rise, along with tuition and other expenses, and open education resources are becoming a more popular answer.
- The Associated Press reports the movement toward open source content has made “rapid gains” in the past year, often at the urging of students, but challenges include a lack of relevant resources for higher-level courses and still low buy-in among faculty.
- State and federal legislators have considered laws that incentivize the expansion of open source textbooks or require additional study and support of them, while the body of high-quality open source content continues to grow to fill demand.
Recent studies from the Campus Computing Project have asked chief information officers and faculty what they think about digital and open educational resources when it comes to course materials. While CIOs believe they create more effective and efficient learning opportunities for students, faculty are still skeptical about the benefits of them, besides cost. Most faculty do consider cost as one of the main factors in choosing textbooks, along with quality, so high-quality OER should continue to gain in popularity among instructors.
Faculty expect fairly slow adoption in digital and OER course materials in the coming years, however, especially as compared to CIOs. Coordinated efforts on campuses or across entire states to curate a body of open source materials surely will help speed up adoption, but these libraries take time to create. Meanwhile, the students who might benefit most from the cheaper course materials often do not own the tablets and laptops they need to access them.