Open Access Textbooks and Course Materials

There is a national crisis in the cost of textbooks at US colleges and Universities. The average cost of textbooks is about $1200 for a full-time student per semester and is a significant barrier for many students. In some cases they skip the book, find other “alternative” resources or go into debt to get the required materials for their classes.

There are some solutions, both nationally and at GCC. The Open Textbook Movement is gaining strength, despite industry criticism. Read more about usage rights and copyright laws as they pertain to these resources.

For a list of texts and other course materials available through open access:

At GCC, there is funding to give faculty members small grants to adopt Open Educational Resources in their classes, in place of traditional textbooks. This can save students a tremendous amount of money and increase access to the resources they need to be successful in their classes. Tim Dolan in the GCC Library is the go-to librarian for help finding open access resources, contact him at dolant@gcc.mass.edu. He can tell you more about the program and how to get started.

If you are on the fence about Open Access, and you might be, talk with Tim and visit the SPARC site to learn more about the impact of open access resources on teaching and how adoption of these free educational materials can increase access and opportunity to higher education.

If you are going to require that students purchase a text:

  • Make sure that the students need to have the text. If a text is required for a course, it should be used each week.
  • Look for the lowest cost text available within the discipline that meets the learning objectives for the course.
  • Provide the library with a reserve copy that students can use on campus. This is a great idea for face-to-face and online classes.
  • Allow students to use an older edition of the text that will be significantly cheaper. New editions often have few changes, but the difference in cost can be $100 or more.
  • Pass textbook tips on for your students about ways to make textbooks and course materials more affordable and available to them.