This past Spring 2018, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and other advocates for open access to information, scholarship, and knowledge received the exciting news that Congress voted to approve a $5 million Open Textbook Pilot Program. SPARC has played a key role in seeing this issue through Congressional vote and implementation at the Department of Education, and SPARC’s work on this important issue will continue beyond the 2018 fiscal year (FY18). On July 30th, the Department of Education issued a Call for Applications aimed at academic institutions working to create and improve access and use of open textbooks. The application deadline is August 29th, 2018.
In a summary provided by SPARC: “The Department will award the $5 million in 1-3 grants large grants to consortia of at least three higher education institutions with employer, workforce, and community partners. The program is focused on student savings through expanding open textbooks for high-enrollment courses within a sequence or degree program, and the Department heavily emphasizes Career and Technical Education (CTE).”
SPARC’s Open Textbook Facts:
Cited online at SPARC, August 24th, 2018: https://sparcopen.org/our-work/open-textbooks-fy18/
- Open textbooks and open educational resources (OER) are academic materials that are freely available to download, edit and share to better serve all students. These materials come in all formats, including print and digital, and have an open copyright license that permits free and flexible use.
- Numerous institutions of higher education have launched open textbook pilot programs. An analysis of open textbook pilot programs by the Student PIRGs found that these programs saved students $128 per course on college textbook costs. If every undergraduate took one course that used an open textbook, students would save more than $1.4 billion per year.
- Open textbook grant programs at the state level have a strong track record of achieving savings for students. States including Georgia and North Dakota have funded open textbook grant programs that have ultimately saved students more than ten times the amount invested. As such, a $5 million investment could save students $50 million or more.
- Peer-reviewed research has found that students assigned free, open textbooks do as well or better than their peers in terms of grades, course completion, and other measures of academic success. Open textbooks can reduce costs while also supporting student success.
If you would like to know more about open textbooks, open educational resources, and the Open Textbook Pilot program, please don’t hesitate to contact Jen Green, Digital Scholarship Librarian or Katie Harding, Education and Outreach Librarian.