Have you heard about Pressbooks? Piloted by IU through the Unizin consortium, Pressbooks gives faculty and staff the freedom to create customized, free or low-cost online course materials for IUPUI students. Why would someone want to do that? Well …
In the 2016/2017 academic year, IUPUI’s 21,748 undergraduates paid an average of $1,204.00 for books and supplies. That’s an annual investment of $26 million by students and families on course materials. Spending such large sums on textbooks diverts investments in a student’s quality of life and can even reduce their learning outcomes. Sadly, however, textbook prices have been on the rise for more than a decade. In fact, the rising cost of textbooks is outpacing the consumer price index, home prices, and even healthcare.
Students face plenty of barriers to college success -- and cost is a big one. Nearly 30% of undergraduates use financial aid to pay for textbooks -- digging themselves even deeper into long term educational debt (Covering the Cost, 2016, pg. 5). Meanwhile, with or without financial aid, student budgets are tight. One study found that 10% of the students that dropped out of college did so because they couldn’t pay a bill of less than $1,000.00 (ibid., p. 8). In other words, a year’s worth of books could break a student’s chances of completing a college degree.
Given IUPUI’s commitment to improving student retention, it makes sense that efforts to support textbook affordability on campus are well underway. The IU eText program reports that by negotiating with publishers for online textbooks that it saved students $3.5 million last year (IU IT New & Events, April 6, 2017). But a reduced price for a brand name online textbook is still an expense and sometimes a big one for a student budget. Happily, the IU eText program now includes the Open Textbook Library, a collection of fully open access, free textbooks that have been used in college level courses. Even so, IU eText will leave some courses without a suitable textbook. That’s where Pressbooks can fill the gap.
Come learn more about how others have used Pressbooks to meet the learning needs of students while also reducing the costs of course materials, by joining IUPUI University Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship for a half-day symposium on March 9th, 2018, 9:00am - Noon in the University Library Auditorium. The symposium will feature a panel of educators from University of Wisconsin-Madison that have already reduced costs for students by using Pressbooks. It will also include a session that explores how Pressbooks will meet your needs at IUPUI. A light breakfast will be served at 8:30am.
Steel Wagstaff (Educational Technology Consultant, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Kris Olds (Professor of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Carrie Nelson (Librarian and Director of Scholarly Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Michele Kelmer (Principal Unizin IT Consultant, IU UITS)
Kevin Berkopes (Director of Mathematics and Statistics Learning Centers, IUPUI)
This symposium is sponsored by the Indiana University Office of Scholarly Publishing and UITS.
- Jere Odell