Open Course Library (OCL), a project funded by the Washington Legislature and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create open access textbooks for the 81 most common community college courses, has announced that it has completed textbooks for its remaining 39 courses. The open access nature of the textbooks means that anyone can freely share or adapt the textbooks, as long as it is properly attributed to the author.

The first 42 courses of the OCL project were released in October 2011 and the early calculations showed $1.3 million in student savings. The recent news release was accompanied by a Student PIRGs estimation, updating the number to $5.5 million in student savings to date. On average, a student who took an OCL course saved $96 on textbooks.

The OCL’s materials have the potential to save students millions of dollars, however faculty have been slow to adopt them. Currently, only about 105 faculty members or departments in Washington have adopted OCL materials. A 2011 Student PIRGs analysis estimated that student savings could reach $41.6 million annually if OCL materials were adopted statewide.

The problem with OCL textbooks is that they are not mandated by the state for instructors to use, so the hardest part is getting them to take a look at the materials. In addition, OCL is at a disadvantage because, unlike commercial publishers, it does not employ a sales team to encourage open-course adoption. Another concern is that many faculty worry that these textbooks will be of lesser quality than the commercial publishers’ textbooks. However, David Lippman, a Pierce College math instructor and co-developer for several OCL textbooks, disagrees with that sentiment and vouches for the quality of these textbooks. He stated that his OCL courses over the past two years have saved students $50,000 on textbooks, compared to traditional publisher textbooks, while his students achieved the same or greater academic success.

You can read the full press release here:

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