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Colleges want to move away from expensive textbooks. Can it be done?

Colleges want to move away from expensive textbooks. Can it be done?

Higher Ed Dive

Danielle McLean
December 18, 2023
West Texas A&M University made headlines in August after announcing its lofty goal of eliminating the majority of textbook-related costs.
A couple months after the university’s initial announcement, West Texas A&M President Walter Wendler conceded his plans were too ambitious and said they would only apply to first- and second-year classes. In an email last month, Wendler said he planned to achieve this goal by finding “whatever means we can to reduce costs to students and assist faculty in finding resources acceptable to them for teaching.”
One of several solutions the university is exploring to eliminate textbook costs is turning to open-access materials.
Open educational resources, or OER, are available in the public domain or under an open license that allows them to be freely used and altered. A growing number of institutions have been exploring using those materials over expensive textbooks.
Because open education resources can reduce the cost of taking classes, they can also help boost the performance of students — especially those who have low income or belong to underrepresented groups, said Jenny Parks, vice president of policy and research at the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, a 12-state coalition that aims to improve student success. That can lead to fewer students dropping out of classes or failing them.
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