MOSCOW, Idaho — April 15, 2016 — The University of Idaho Library, in partnership with ASUI and the VandalStore, is celebrating Open Education Week from April 18-22, with activities and workshops promoting and exploring open source textbooks.
“The affordability of a college education is something that matters to everyone at the University of Idaho, whether we are undergraduates working two part-time jobs to make ends meet, graduate students teaching their very first courses or veteran faculty members,” said Anne Gaines, UI Library faculty member and coordinator of UI’s open source textbook project. “While tuition structures and state appropriations are things generally beyond the influence of average librarians and professors, the cost of textbooks is something we can do something about.”
UI announced it was signing on with open source textbook system OpenStax in February. OpenStax is a free platform that allows faculty to select chapters and topics of peer-reviewed curriculum to create a unique textbook that addresses specific needs and class goals. The book is then available online, at no cost, to students. Students can also buy the printed and bound open source textbook at the VandalStore for a price much less than a traditional textbook.
The average student at a public four-year university spends $1,298 on books and supplies each year, and the cost of textbooks has increased by 812 percent since 1978. Affordability is especially important in Idaho, where nearly half of K-12 students are from low-income households.
Several faculty at the University of Idaho are already using open educational resources. Renae Shrum, a statistics instructor in the College of Science, has been using an open textbook in her Statistics 251 courses for two years. The textbook she uses, OpenIntro Statistics, is free to access online and available for purchase in print for $7.60.
“The students were thrilled at the cost,” she said. The book has also been adopted by other statistics instructors.
The UI Library will host several events during Open Education Week to teach the students and faculty about free textbook resources. For a full schedule of events for Open Education Week, go to: http://www.lib.uidaho.edu/services/scholarly/opened2016.html.