Kat Riddler, Managing Editor
University of Missouri System President Dr. Mun Choi made an announcement on June 21 at 1 p.m. at the Mizzou Store on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus about changes in UM System initiative towards textbook price for students.
“It is estimated that annually students in higher education spend about $1,200 per year on textbooks,” President Choi said. “I’m very happy to announce that we will be making a very significant investment in open source material. So what this means for our students and faculty is that by using books and other materials that our faculty members will be developing as part of the curriculum not only will our students be able to afford the textbooks but our faculty will be able to develop the material with new innovations that are occurring in a very timely fashion.”
The initiative takes advantage of Open Educational Resources (OER), or class materials that are free for students, and AutoAccess, which is a program that makes textbooks and class materials available online at a lower cost than traditional learning resources. According to the New York Times article “Putting a Dent in College Costs With Open-Source Textbooks,” author Ann Carrns wrote, “Open-source textbooks are created under an open license, so they can be downloaded free or printed at low cost; instructors can even rearrange the sequence of material, to suit their preference. There’s a movement to make faculty-written, peer-reviewed open-source textbooks available to professors and students, to help keep a lid on the cost of textbooks.”
Nathan Willett, president of the Missouri Students Association said, “Some students don’t purchase required textbooks because it’s too expensive; it ends up hurting their academic success.”
Dr. Choi said, “We have that responsibility as an institution, as we all know, to provide a high quality of affordable education.”
The system-wide initiative is launching this summer. “The issue of textbook prices is part of a larger national conversation that is happening in universities throughout the country,” said Scott Curtis, learning and research librarian at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries. President Choi initiated a similar program at his previous college of the University of Connecticut with an incentive for teachers to use the open source material.