Tuesday, May 1, 2012

University of Minnesota Launches Online Open Text Catalog

An issue facing open educational resources (OER) is having a collection of open-content textbooks in one, easy-to-use site. The University of Minnesota is doing its part, recently launching Open Academics textbook catalog that allows students to read textbooks online for free or order a printed version for a nominal fee.

The site has 90 open-license titles available from the school’s largest entry-level courses. It also lists reviewed texts and awards a stipend to faculty members who review or adopt an open book.

“Faculty share student concerns about high textbook costs and are willing to consider high-quality, affordable alternatives like open textbooks,” said Irene Durancyzk, associate professor of the College of Education and Human Development at the university.

The hope of the Minnesota project is to attract not only the tech-savvy instructors, but all faculty members looking to lower the cost of adopted textbooks. OnCampus Research’s Student Watch 2012: Student Attitudes and Perceptions found that 52% of students responding did not buy at least one of their required textbooks for the fall 2011 semester and price was the main reason for the majority of those students.

“High textbook costs are one of the many factors that are contributing to the increasing financial burden that students are facing,” said Lizzy Shay, the undergraduate student body president at Minnesota. “Affordable open textbooks would go a long way in relieving that burden.”

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