Beginning of the end for $100 college textbooks: Legislature, colleges, Gates Foundation partner
Two and a half years ago I worked night and day during my first legislative session to secure $1.2 million in the state budget for a comprehensive investment in open courseware, open libraries and technology at our community and technical colleges. Those dollars have been translated into programs that save students millions while helping, faculty, administrators and taxpayers. Here’s a blog post about the initial investment:
Today the following statement was released by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, the Gates Foundation and my office.
OPEN COURSE LIBRARY LAUNCH MARKS THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF $100-PLUS TEXTBOOKS
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Last fall, teams of faculty, instructional designers, and librarians set out to arm the 81 highest-enrolled community and technical college courses with high-quality, low-cost educational materials that will cost students no more than $30 per class per term.
Today [Monday, Oct. 31] during a telephone press conference, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) announced the launch of the Open Course Library (OCL), rolling out expertly-developed materials for the first 42 of 81 courses likely to dramatically reduce textbook costs for students in the state and nation.
The customizable materials — including textbooks, syllabi, course activities, readings, assessments — will be freely available online under an open license for use by the state’s 34 public community and technical colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and anyone else in the world.
The combined 81 courses represent more than 410,000 class enrollments across the state’s public community and technical college system. If all the colleges in the system adopted the courses, potential textbook savings to students could amount to $41 million annually.
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Washington State Legislature, the OCL aims to not only lower textbook costs, but to improve college completion rates, which ultimately leads to better job prospects.
“For employers, it’s about up-skilling the labor force,” said Shaunta Hyde, State Board member and director of Global Aviation Policy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Open Educational Resources will help people earn industry-recognized degrees and credentials more quickly at lower cost. Evidence shows the burden of high college expenses can impact student success and degree completion. So the Open Course Library is good for business and leads to an improved employment outlook for students.”
According to the Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), the program is already expected to pay for itself within one year. “The 42 faulty who developed these courses and their departments will save students an estimated $1.26 million during the 2011-2012 school year alone,” said Nicole Allen, Textbook Advocate for the Student PIRGs. The first wave of courses cost $1.18 million to create. “Imagine the savings with the materials now available to the rest of the world.”
Each course has been peer-reviewed and checked by a team that includes accessibility and global education experts. Use of these materials is not mandated, but some faculty and departments with early access to the materials are now moving to adopt Open Course Library courses.
This fall, the mathematics department at Green River Community College in Auburn, Wash. began using the Calculus I course in place of an expensive, traditional textbook.
“I supported and promoted my division’s adoption of the text by David Lippman and Melonie Rasmussen primarily because it is, in my opinion, the best pre-calculus text available. Even those in the division who might disagree, ranked it no lower than second,” said Michael Kenyon, the department’s coordinator. “Our two main criteria for choosing textbooks are quality and price. And there’s no contest on price. The authors have simply written a better book at a much better price.
“It’s not often that government gets this right,” said Rep. Reuven Carlyle, Washington State 36th District (D-Seattle) and champion of open education resources. “This is a significant state investment in this era of massive budget cuts. We had little choice but to seize the opportunity of this crisis to challenge the status quo of the old-style cost model in both K-12 and higher education.”
Another 39 courses will be developed in 2012 and released in early 2013.
“The public speaking class with Dr. Phil Venditti used the Open Course Library. It was the least expensive and most beneficial course I have taken, since the course materials cost us no more than $30 out of pocket,” said Lindsey Cassels, Clover Park Technical College medical esthetics student. “It is outrageous for students to pay $200 or more per textbook. In a four-quarter program, having to spend nearly $3,000 per year just on textbooks is enough to make students drop out of college.”
Want to learn more?
Open Course Library http://opencourselibrary.org
Open Course Library FAQs http://www.opencourselibrary.org/about/faq
Student Public Interest Research Groups http://www.studentpirgs.org/textbooks
Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges http://sbctc.edu/
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation http://www.gatesfoundation.org/postsecondaryeducation/Pages/default.aspx
Rep. Reuven Carlyle: http://www.leg.wa.gov/house/representatives/Pages/carlyle.aspx
It is my full intention to use this successful launch to move forward with Open Educational Resources throughout Washington State. My hope and expectation is that other states will rapidly embrace this strategy.
Your partner in service,