The University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development took a step forward last week when it released an online catalog of “open” textbooks. The online catalog allows faculty from anywhere around the world to access the texts and use them for classes. Faculty can use others’ work and post their own. When instructors use open texts like these, students can avoid high textbook prices.
CEHD’s effort will save money for students and provide a more open learning environment with more options. With 84 texts available in the catalog since it launched last week, people in more than 40 countries have accessed the material according to the Minnesota Daily. CEHD is an excellent model for other University colleges to follow. With more colleges utilizing and providing online open textbook catalogs, more students will benefit financially, and more people will be able to share information internationally.
The textbooks are accessible to faculty for free, who can then use the material in their classes. The free online texts are also available in print form — one has to pay for printing costs but not for intellectual property usage, meaning the texts are still significantly cheaper.
The Daily Editorial Board advocated using open-source textbooks in a February editorial, and it is refreshing to see that our own CEHD has begun using them. We hope CEHD’s step in the right direction will push and encourage other University colleges to start their own online textbook catalogs.
Students spend an average of $1,000 on textbooks and supplies per year. Spending this much on textbooks isn’t necessary considering the high and rising cost of tuition — we should make online open textbooks the norm.