Bill: Put textbooks onlineLawmakers would like to put more cash in college students’ pockets by urging schools to move to a cheaper open textbook option, or online book, rather than the traditional printed book.
By: By TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Lawmakers would like to put more cash in college students’ pockets by urging schools to move to a cheaper open textbook option, or online book, rather than the traditional printed book.
North Dakota students are currently paying an estimated $900 per semester on textbooks, according to the North Dakota University System. Moving to an open textbook could save a student 80 percent, or $720.
Rep. Thomas Beadle, R-Fargo, is pushing House Concurrent Resolution 3009 to study the use of open textbooks and their viability on North Dakota campuses and House Concurrent Resolution 3013, urging faculty to use the paper-free concept.
Both were passed by the House and were unanimously sent to the Senate floor by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.
“We are ushering in a new generation and a new way of doing things.” Beadle said Wednesday.
Besides being in digital form, open source textbooks provide a way for authors to publish their own work, by purchasing their own copyright license, and share textbooks without having to go through a large publishing company.
Open textbooks are licensed under an open copyright license, making a textbook freely available online to students and teachers, and easier to share with other college campuses around the world.
“They do it for free solely based on an educational standpoint,” Beadle said. “An end goal and emphasis is working with like-minded individuals.”
Beadle said California, Texas, Ohio, Washington and Florida are among the states pushing the idea.
North Dakota State University bookstore has over 200 digital textbooks, but has not had a professor ask about, or move to, an open source textbook method, according to Carl Wichman, textbook manager at the NDSU Bookstore.
He said digital sales even decreased from last year, and doesn’t expect to see a large increase soon, particularly for upper-level and graduate courses. He suspects those courses wouldn’t move to an open source textbook because they may lack in quality since they are self-published.
William Woodworth, a senior at NDSU, said he would use an open source textbook if it were readily available and had a high academic quality.
“Sometimes they’re not the same quality as textbooks,” he said. “If they were, and we had the choice, the cheaper option is what the students want.”
Woodworth, president of the North Dakota Student Association, said they plan to take the University System research on open source textbooks and educate students and faculty on their use.
Tammy Staudinger, textbook associate at the Bismarck State College Bookstore, said they sell very few digital textbooks, and only have a handful of professors requesting digital or open source copies.
“Every campus I’ve noticed is at a different stage. I’m sure other campuses like it, we’ve been trying ways to eliminate costs as well,” she said. “Every year, kids in school are getting more apt to using technology versus a book. Now that’s the avenue we are on and probably going to take.”
She said open source textbooks may eliminate costs up front, but students may miss having a paper copy and end up paying to print off pages.
“A lot of students still like actual books to highlight,” she said.