Saturday, October 17, 2015

Free textbooks for every student

If you, like me, balk at telling your students that they must pay 126 bucks for an ethics textbook (ethics!), Al Franken is here to help. Franken wants to establish a grant program to fund “open textbooks” -- free, online textbooks that could be distributed openly without restriction.

City Pages reports:

Co-sponsored by Franken with bill buddy Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, the Affordable College Textbook Act works like this: Higher ed institutions apply for government cash to fund the creation of a shareable book. That otherwise marked-up educational content could be built on or customized by other schools and tweed jacketed academics to suit their courses.

It’s unclear how much the book share move would cost Uncle Sam. However, three years ago the University of Illinois spun $150,000 into an open-source book sampled by at least 60,000 students.

According to a U.S. PIRG survey, 65 percent of college students have passed on buying a textbook because it was too expensive. On some campuses, books make up more than 40 percent of the cost to attend, says Ethan Senack, a higher education advocate with the consumer group.

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