Open access textbooks could save students money, allow for earlier graduation

Megan Fischer

Course materials do not have to be expensive when universities provide open access textbooks that have modified copyright laws attached to them.
Not spending money on textbooks could be a possible option for education. David Wiley, Chief Academic Officer of Lumen Learning, and Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition came to talk at the Morgan Library about open education resources as an option for college course materials. (Photo Credit: Megan Fischer)
Not spending money on textbooks could be a possible option for education. David Wiley, chief academic officer of Lumen Learning, and Nicole Allen, director of Open Education for Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, came to talk at the Morgan Library about open education resources as an option for college course materials. (Photo credit: Megan Fischer.)
 
David Wiley, Chief Academic Officer of Lumen Learning, and Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, came to talk at Morgan Library about open education resources as an option for college course materials. The talk was given in honor Open Access Month and International Open Access Week.
 
“Textbook costs are out of control — right now they are at three times the rate of inflation and the average student budget for books and supplies is over $1,200 per year,” Allen said.
 
In a public study of about 15,000 students, it was found that students would really be reinvesting the money they saved by putting it back in their education. 
 
“Students who save money on textbooks will reinvest that savings and sign up to take more classes, which should lead them to graduate faster,” Wiley said. “When you make open educational materials available to students, every student has all the resources they need from day one, so you eliminate that group of students who are going to try to get through without the materials and then drop out.”
 
Wiley used an example of buying new cars to explain the linkage between how much something costs and the quality of that object.
 
“There’s very much a mythology around this idea that you get what you pay for and you only get what you pay for,” Wiley said.
 
Allen said that quality and accessibility have to be taken into consideration in order to determine the quality of a textbook.
 
“It’s impossible to determine the quality of a textbook if students don’t have access to it,” Allen said.
 
Wiley said barriers to open source access are awareness about open source textbooks and the idea surrounding the quality of a textbook.
 
“When you talk about educational resources, there’s really only one meaningful measure of quality.” Wiley said. “If students who use the material and are learning from it, it doesn’t matter who published it or who authored it or what the peer reviews were like.”
 
Collegian Reporter Megan Fischer can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @MegFischer04.