In some educational settings, the cost of textbooks approaches or even exceeds the cost of tuition. Given limited resources, it is important to better understand the impacts of free open educational resources (OER) on student outcomes. Utilizing digital resources such as OER can substantially reduce costs for students. The purpose of this study was to analyze whether the adoption of no-cost open digital textbooks significantly predicted students’ completion of courses, class achievement, and enrollment intensity during and after semesters in which OER were used. T
his study utilized a quantitative quasi-experimental design with propensity-score matched groups to examine differences in outcomes between students that used OER and those who did not. The demographics of the initial sample of 16,727 included 4909 students in the treatment condition with a pool of 11,818 in the control condition. There were statistically significant differences between groups, with most favoring students utilizing OER.
URL : http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12528-015-9101-x
The cost and quality of online open textbooks: Perceptions of community college faculty and students :
« Proponents of open educational resources (OER) claim that significant cost savings are possible when open textbooks displace traditional textbooks in the college classroom. We investigated student and faculty perceptions of OER used in a community college context. Over 125 students and 11 faculty from seven colleges responded to an online questionnaire about the cost and quality of the open textbooks used in their classrooms. Results showed that the majority of students and faculty had a positive experience using the open textbooks, appreciated the lower costs, and perceived the texts as being of high quality. The potential implications for OER initiatives at the college level seem large. If primary instructional materials can in fact be made available to students at no or very low cost, without harming learning outcomes, there appears to be a significant opportunity for disruption and innovation in higher education. »
URL : http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3972
Open Textbooks and Increased Student Access and Outcomes :
« This study reports findings from a year-long pilot study during which 991 students in 9 core courses in the Virginia State University School of Business replaced traditional textbooks with openly licensed books and other digital content. The university made a deliberate decision to use open textbooks that were copyrighted under the Creative Commons license. This decision was based on the accessibility and flexibility in the delivery of course content provided by open textbooks. More students accessed digital open textbooks than had previously purchased hard copies of textbooks. Higher grades were correlated with courses that used open textbooks. »
URL : http://www.eurodl.org/?article=533
Proponents of open educational resources claim that significant cost savings are possible when open textbooks displace traditional textbooks in the classroom. Over a period of two years, we worked with 20 middle and high school science teachers (collectively teaching approximately 3,900 students) who adopted open textbooks to understand the process and determine the overall cost of such an adoption.
The teachers deployed open textbooks in multiple ways. Some of these methods cost more than traditional textbooks; however, we did identify and implement a successful model of open textbook adoption that reduces costs by over 50% compared to the cost of adopting traditional textbooks.
In addition, we examined the standardized test scores of students using the open textbooks and found no apparent differences in the results of students who used open textbooks compared with previous years when the same teachers’ students used traditional textbooks. However, given the limited sample of participating teachers, further investigation is needed. »
URL : http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1153/2256
Unrestricted, open access to scholarly scientific literature provides an opportunity for chemistry educators to go beyond the textbook, introducing students to the real work of scientists. Despite the best efforts of textbook authors to provide information about recent research results, textbooks are not a substitute for learning to use the primary literature. Chemical educators can use open access articles to develop research-related skills, to foster curiosity, and to cultivate the next generation of scientists. It is becoming increasingly important for chemical educators to teach undergraduates how online journals are changing the nature of chemical research.
Some institutions can not afford online subscription costs, and open access journals can be an important resource to provide practical experience. Open access publications eliminate the barriers to the central work of scientists providing chemistry educators (whether at well-endowed or economically limited colleges) with the key resources for enhancing student learning through current, relevant research.
URL : http://www.journal.chemistrycentral.com/content/5/1/18
A sustainable future for open textbooks? The Flat World Knowledge story :
« Many college students and their families are concerned about the high costs of textbooks. E–books have been proposed as one potential solution; open source textbooks have also been explored. A company called Flat World Knowledge produces and gives away open source textbooks in a way they believe to be financially sustainable. This article reports an initial study of the financial sustainability of the Flat World Knowledge open source textbook model. »
URL : http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2800/2578