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Monday, April 17, 2017

University System of Maryland gives 21 grants to promote open-source textbook use | The Diamondback - newspaper at the University of Maryland.

Photo: Michael Brice-Saddler
"University System of Maryland gives 21 grants to promote open-source textbook use. High textbook prices are a concern to many." inform Michael Brice-Saddler, Editor and Senior Staff Writer. 

High textbook prices are a concern to many.
Photo: Enoch Hsiao/The Diamondback

Twenty-one faculty members from 12 state universities and community colleges will receive a series of "mini grants" from the University System of Maryland to help them expand open education resources and mitigate student fees.

Financed through the system's William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, the Maryland Open Source Textbook initiative's High-Impact OER Mini-Grant Program provides faculty with funding between $500 and $2,500 to adopt, adapt, scale or create open education resources, or OERs, for their classes, said Kirwan Center Director MJ Bishop.

OERs are openly-licensed academic resources such as scholarly articles and texts that professors can reuse, redistribute and reconfigure how they like, Bishop said. These resources are used in place of traditional textbooks and bear no costs for students.

These grants are expected to save students enrolled in these courses $1.3 million in textbook costs for the fall 2017 semester, Bishop added. In the United States, the cost of textbooks has risen 812 percent since 1978, according to a system press release. 

"We need to get back to the place where instructional materials for students aren't so expensive where we have students making decisions not to purchase textbooks or not to enroll in courses," she said.

Professors across the state were encouraged to apply for the grant if they teach high-enrollment courses where open resources are readily available, as "that's where they'll see immediate impact on student costs," Bishop said. Open education resources for many upper-level and advanced courses haven't been developed yet, meaning the professors of these classes would be forced to create something entirely new.