Savings at UNI
The costs of college is going up every year, and it's not just tuition that weighs on student's minds and bank accounts. According to the College Board, undergraduates spend an average of $1,200 on textbooks annually. Faced with these costs, the academic impact is seen in classrooms across the country--many students choose to not buy a required text, take fewer courses, and some even drop or fail a course completely.
Rod Library’s Digital Scholarship Librarian, Ellen Neuhaus has been leading the conversation on UNI Campus for two years. In 2015 the Managing Director of the Open Textbook Network (OTN), Sarah Cohen visited UNI to discuss the benefits of the OTN. In August of 2016, Rod Library joined the OTN on behalf of UNI and has since begun adopting the concept across campus. One of the major benefits of adopting this concept is the savings UNI is able to pass along to the students.
Ellen Neuhaus, associate professor, digital scholarship librarian
“Barriers for faculty to adopt open textbooks often include not knowing if there are open textbook titles in the subjects they teach and assuming that since they’re free, the open books don’t meet the same standards of quality and peer-review as traditional books.”
Last year, University of Northern Iowa (UNI) students saved $129,715 in textbook costs due to open textbook adoptions. The UNI cost saving number was based on the local figure, $900 per year, reported on UNI’s Admissions website. These cost savings in 2016-2017 came from thirteen classes with a total enrollment of 1,153 students that adopted an open textbook. Some of the first UNI departments to take advantage of the open textbooks were Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Technology, and Languages & Literatures. This was one less book a student had to purchase for their classes. Instead, they were able to access these textbooks online.
Nilmani Pramanik, Ph.D., professor of technology
"A major motivation for me was certainly the desire to save students money. However, I also want to make the material easy to access, for example, by sending students PDF documents, or by copying and pasting sections of the text into emails and so on. So it is not just that the books are free but they are also easy to access."
Looking toward the future
As the initiative gains more momentum we hope the savings to students continues to grow. The three Iowa Regent Libraries have been working together to continue the conversations. They have also submitted grants for Open Textbook initiatives to support faculty development of open textbooks and other open educational resources.
To learn more about the OTN or UNI’s involvement in the Open Textbook Network you can visit (http://research.cehd.umn.edu/otn/) or contact Ellen Neuhaus, Digital Scholarship Librarian, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-273-3739.