Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Free textbooks? Federal government is on track with a pilot program.; The Washington Post, May 8, 2018

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, The Washington Post; Free textbooks? Federal government is on track with a pilot program.

"Proponents of open-educational resources have said the investment from Congress could further efforts to save students money on course materials. The cost of print textbooks soared 65 percent in the past decade, although prices are moderating, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Academic publishers have maximized profits from college textbooks by setting high prices to recoup their investment and to offset limited sales.

Against that backdrop, open-source textbooks have emerged as a cost-effective solution for cash-strapped students. Open-educational resources include many of the same digital textbooks, streaming videos, tests and software that are produced by big-name publishers. Students can download the material free or print copies for a nominal price.

OpenStax, a nonprofit tied to Rice University in Houston, is one of the largest providers of open-source books. The company relies on funding from philanthropists, such as the Gates Foundation, to produce peer-reviewed digital textbooks for free and print versions for up to $55."

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