We can see that Australian government did make effort to promote open educational resources. However, these open resources are mainly limited to K-12 education than university education. As a result, an increasing drop-out rate due to expensive textbooks across Australian universities is alarming for the importance of open education resource or other affordable textbook alternatives. Now, it’s time to learn from the successful model of Open Educational Resources (OER) in the US for tertiary education to help the drop-outs out of financial pressures.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act (Public Law 110-315) (HEOA) was enacted on August 14, 2008, and reauthorizes the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) in the United States. Also, a provision relates to textbook affordability and access to pricing information went into effect in 2010. Moreover, “bills supporting the development of open textbooks have been introduced in both the House and Senate” (U.S Department of Education 2008 & Student PIRGS 2010). The HEOA price disclosure law helps accelerate the pace of Open Textbook. Open textbooks mean “college texts that have been published online under an open license that allows free digital access, low-cost printing and customization by instructors.”More importantly, the major difference is the application of “Open License”, which enables a wider range of access for affordable textbook formats, involving “free web-based versions, printable PDFs, and printed and bound hard copies for $20-40 (traditional textbooks usually cost $100-200!).” one of the most notable feature of open textbooks is customization – Instructors can remove the chapters that is less relevant to the course content, or they can add in supplementary materials, homework questions or annotations (Student PIRGS 2010).
I highly advocate applying the mechanism of Open Textbook in the US to Australian universities with changes based on specific Australian universities’ differences and needs. Let’s have a look at the main open educational resources in Australia at the moment (As I mentioned before, mainly for K-12 education):
• Writers Talk
• Science Talk
• Software-specific resources – Tools4U
• Dynamic calculus
Current statistics for Sites2See—
- How about including the textbook content used at universities into the already existed open educational resources?
In terms of the open resources for Australian universities –
“The University of Southern Queensland and Wollongong University are among 15 institutions which will contribute courses to the Open Education Resource University, which is being run by WikiEducator” (The Australian 2012).
University of Tasmania, Australia – Open Educational Resources (OER)
“The UNESCO declaration was presented at the World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress in Paris in June. The congress is a partnership between UNESCO and the non-profit Commonwealth of Learning” (The Australian 2012).
ROCK UP!!! Let’s come together to make Open Textbook available across Australia and the world!!!
[The benefits for students from Open Textbook]
According to the Report A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks Are The Path To Textbook Affordability, found that “using open textbooks could reduce costs 80% – that’s $184 per year, compared to the current average of $900! But cost isn’t the only advantage. In our survey, student preferences were split 75% for print and 25% for digital, and two out of five said they’d be comfortable using both. Students listed readability, convenience and cost as their top factors in choosing a format, although there was no consensus on which format represented these qualities best. Given such variance in student preferences, open textbooks are a far more effective solution than conventional options like rentals and e-books, since students can choose from a wide variety of affordable options” (Student PIRGS 2010).
Allen, N 2010, A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks Are The Path To Textbook Affordability, The Student PIRGs, viewed 2 September 2012, <http://www.studentpirgs.org/reports/cover-cover-solution>.
‘Online and free, the real education revolution accelerates’, The Australian, 03 July 2012, viewed 5 September 2012, <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/online-and-free-the-real-education-revolution-accelerates/story-e6frgcjx-1226414895200>.
Student PIRGS 2010, Make Textbook Affordable, viewed 5 September 2012, <http://www.studentpirgs.org/campaigns/sp/make-textbooks-affordable>.
U.S. Department of Education, ‘Higher Education Opportunity Act – 2008’, viewed 5 September 2012, < http://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/leg/hea08/index.html>.
Please leave a comment about anything relevant to Affordable Textbook!!!