Student PIRGs Releases Policy Guide on Textbook Affodability Issues

Posted June 6th, 2014 in News by Alexander

The Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) website recently published a new policy guide on textbook affordability issues. Their intention is to provide leaders and decision-making authorities – from institutions to state legislators – with informed policies concerning open access textbooks and other approaches for affordable textbooks. The guide provides textbook affordability background information, open access textbook policy solutions, a list of key audiences and suggestions to address their concerns, a checklist of components necessary to create good policies, and sample policies and programs.

If you would like to view the policy guide , please visit:
http://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/POLICY%20GUIDE%20-%20Affordable%20Textbooks.pdf

Law Professors Petition for Students’ Right to Sell Used Textbooks

Posted May 19th, 2014 in News by Alexander

After receiving an online petition from law professors with over 300 signatures, Wolters Kluwer Aspen Law, a leading legal publisher, released a statement assuring them its new casebook-publishing program would not threaten students’ ability to buy and sell used textbooks.

The professors feared the new casebook-publishing program, called Casebook Connect, would impede students’ rights to sell and buy used textbooks. The program’s initial introduction indicated some of the most popular casebooks’ new editions would include a print copy and a lifetime access to a digital version. However, at the end of the semester, students would be required to return the printed copy back to the publisher. The professors argued this would force students to buy new casebooks every semester and eliminate the used-book market.

After 329 signatures, Aspen released a response with more information about the program and relieved many of the petitioners’ concerns. They said students would have the option to purchase individual casebooks, new or used, or buy through Casebook Connect program.

Vikram Savkar, vice president and general manager of Wolters Kluwer Legal Education, said in an interview that it was a case of miscommunication. He assured the professors it was always the company’s intention to let students choose whether or not to buy the casebooks through the program. In addition, Mr. Savkar indicated they are working hard to find a fair price for the content in response to the professors’ feedback.

If you would like to read the full story, visit:
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/law-professors-defend-students-right-to-sell-used-textbooks/52523?cid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Florida House of Represenativies Drafts Bill for Textbook Affordability

Posted April 25th, 2014 in News by Alexander

The Florida House of Representatives recently drafted a bill (HB 355) in an attempt to make college textbooks more affordable for students. The bill is now being reviewed by the Senate, and if it passes into law, it will affect how professors select textbooks for their courses and the timeline for informing students. Here is a summary of the bill:

  • Applies the current textbook affordability law to define and include instructional materials.

 

  • Requires Florida College System institutions and state universities to post a list of required and recommended textbooks and other instructional materials for each course at least 14 days prior to the first day of class registration. The list of textbooks must also be posted prominently in the course registration system and on their website.

 

  • Requires the use of the same textbook in a course for a minimum of 3 years, unless granted an exemption by the college president or designee.

 

  • Allows postsecondary institutions that are unable to meet the fall 2014 textbook information posting deadline to submit quarterly reports to the State Board of Education and Board of Governors about their efforts to be in compliance with these requirements by fall of 2015.

 

  • Requires reports on cost, exemptions, adoption cycles and reasons for failure to comply.

 

  • Requires the cost benefits of open access textbooks and instructional materials, including comparison with the cost benefit of publishers’ textbooks and instructional materials, to be included in guidelines that encourage course instructors and academic departments to participate in the development, adoption, and review of open access textbooks and instructional materials.

The Senate formed a similar measure (SB 530), but it is still under review by a subcommittee. It has one more committee before the Senate will vote on the bill and potentially pass it to the House.

If you would like to read House Bill 355, visit:
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2014/0355

If you would like to read Senate Bill 530, visit:
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2014/0530

University System of Maryland Enters Open Access Pilot

Posted April 11th, 2014 in News by Alexander

Since the start of the spring 2014 semester, the University System of Maryland began to conduct a textbook pilot program to reduce textbook costs by using open access materials. The pilot program is a recent strategy of the University System of Maryland to enhance and expand their online learning offerings, while trying to save students money. Their method is to redesign courses with a stronger web presence and open access materials, and using class time specifically to focus on discussion.

The university system estimates the pilot saving 1,100 students a total of $130,000 over the semester. The participating universities within the system include the University of Baltimore, Bowie State University, Copping State University, Chesapeake College, and St Mary’s College of Maryland.

The pilot program stems from a partnership with Lumen Learning, a Portland, Oregon-based company that helps instructors access and evaluate open access content, tests, graphics, and other materials for course adoption. Through grants, Lumen Learning is providing this service for free to the Maryland system, along with 19 other universities nationwide.

If you would like to read the full article, visit:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/bs-md-college-open-source-textbooks-20140322,0,6567208.story

Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Encourage the Adoption of Etextbooks Nationwide

Posted March 28th, 2014 in News by Alexander

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene recently introduced bipartisan-supported legislation in Washington, DC to encourage the use of low-cost or open access digital course materials in higher education. The legislation, termed the E-BOOK Act (Electronic Books Opening Opportunity for Knowledge), aims to develop pilot programs at public institutions across the United States in an attempt to increase access to digital content, expand the availability of e-readers for low-income students, and encourage instructors to adopt emerging learning technologies into their courses.

If the E-Book Act is passed, it would give permission to the Department of Education to award $20 million in grants to establish the pilot programs. The expansion of access to the newest and emerging learning tools will provide college faculty and administrators with the ability to improve learning outcomes and save their students hundreds of dollars on textbooks.

If you would like to read the press-release, visit:
http://delbene.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/delbene-introduces-bipartisan-bill-to-lower-textbook-costs-for-college