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:

USF Professor’s Open Access Experience

Posted May 29th, 2014 in Faculty, stories by Alexander

Dr. Anol Bhattacherjee is an Information Systems professor at the University of South Florida who understands the burden of expensive textbooks. After listening to his students’ complaints about the high cost of textbooks, he decided to create his own open access textbook, “Social Science Research: Principles, Methods, and Practices.” However, saving students money was not his only goal.

Dr. Bhattacherjee believes scientific access should not be restricted by paywalls or limited accessibility. He also feels that existing research textbooks focus only on research methods and do not address the full process of social science research, such as the beginning, where a creative purpose for the research is required, or the end, where one actually tries to get published. In addition, he wanted to avoid the dense language of a professional paper and streamline the main topics to create an easily accessible and compact reference. His solution was to write his own textbook and provide it online for free or at a low cost in print.

The open access textbook book evolved from Dr. Bhattacherjee’s doctorate-level course handouts and notes from over a decade of teaching at USF. In the beginning, he experimented with a first edition, gathering feedback from his graduate students. After reviewing his students’ suggestions, he modified the text into a second edition and released it publicly online. Initially, it was hosted on a server at the University of Georgia and announced on a listserv for MIS research, but the popularity of the textbook quickly took on a global perspective across six continents. Dr. Bhattacherjee was surprised by its surging popularity, expecting the textbook to be downloaded only a few thousand times; it was eventually hosted online by Scholar Commons, a service of the USF Tampa Library to showcase research and creative works. According to the data from Scholar Commons, his textbook has been downloaded over 70,000 times from their website in the last two years.

Currently, Dr. Bhattacherjee uses the textbook in his courses at USF, but many other universities throughout the world from the USA to Australia to China to South Africa have also adopted the textbook. The popularity of his text was due in part to the fact that he wrote about conducting social science research in a general way, not specific to his field, and therefore it held a broad appeal for many disciplines. It was originally written in English, but it has been translated into several other languages, including Arabic, Chinese, and Korean, with more planned for the future.

  • The textbook was published under a Creative Commons license and is freely available on the Scholar Commons website.
  • If you would like a printed copy of the textbook, it is available from Amazon for $8.99.

“For me, the value is that students find it useful.” – Dr. Bhattacherjee

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:

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:

If you would like to read Senate Bill 530, visit:

Internet2 / EDUCAUSE Etextbook Pilot

Posted April 17th, 2014 in Programs, stories by Alexander

The University of South Florida joined twenty three other universities in the Internet 2 / EDUCAUSE Etextbook Pilot which spanned over three semesters, including the fall 2012, spring 2013, and fall 2013 terms. USF’s reasons for participating in the pilot were to offer cheaper alternatives to expensive textbooks, enhance learning, and explore emerging etextbook technology.

  • The pilot was based on a successful etextbook model used at Indiana University in 2009 by Bradley C. Wheeler, the university’s vice president for information technology.
  • The model promoted the idea that if a university bought etextbooks in bulk and charged a mandatory course-materials fee to cover the costs, the university could negotiate a much better price per book for their students.
  • USF utilized Student Technology Fee funds to pay a flat fee for inclusion in each pilot phase, which covered the e-reader platform (Courseload) and publisher-provided content.
  • The USF Tampa Library lead the project with support from USF Information Technology.
  • Over 3,000 USF students participated and were provided their textbooks at no cost for the duration of the pilot.
  • The Courseload e-reader, a digital learning platform designed to enhance etextbooks with greater mobility and studying tools, was required to access the etextbooks in the pilot.
  • The etextbooks and Courseload were integrated onto Blackboard and Canvas.
  • Courseload was intended to encourage students to take advantage of their etextbooks by enabling them to print what they needed, highlight passages in the text, create annotations, and use the collaborative features in order to engage more with fellow students and their professor.
  • At the end of the pilot, students and faculty were asked to provide feedback through a survey developed on Survey Monkey about their experience with the etextbooks and the Courseload platform in order to assess the effectiveness of the pilot.
  • Internet2 / EDUCAUSE collected the survey data from all of the participating universities and created an official summary report. You can access the report here.

If you would like to see a summary of the USF data, click here!


Monica Metz-Wiseman – Project Lead – (, 813 974-9854)
Laura Pascual – Liason to Faculty, Publishers, and Internet2 / EDUCAUSE – (