The College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at the University of Minnesota has started an effort to create an open access textbook catalog called Open Academics. Its purpose is to provide students with a cheaper alternative to high priced commercially published textbooks and it is the first catalog of its kind to be hosted at a major research institution. The university plans to review open access textbooks for their most widely taught courses first, focusing on classes such as introductory biology and math. The textbooks that pass the review process will be added to the online catalog for students to access for free.

Currently, the catalog contains 84 open access textbooks that are being used in courses across the country. Nine CEHD faculty members are already exploring the catalog’s open access textbooks; by replacing their current course materials with the free textbooks, they could potentially save their students over $100,000 in the next year.

The university has drafted some incentives for faculty to become involved in the effort. Any faculty member who writes a review of an open source textbook will be paid $500 for their work, and if they adopt an open access textbook in their class, they will receive a $500-$1,000 stipend.

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