Open Educational Resources

Overview of Issues

The University of Maryland estimates students spend an average of $1,130 on books and supplies per year. Textbook prices have risen a whopping 186% since 1998, and these increasing prices have affected our student’s ability to learn. Forty-eight percent of students reported that textbook prices affected which/how many classes they took, and 65% of students said they’ve skipped a book.  Of those students, 94% said they were concerned it would hurt their grade. The Student Government Association is working to ease the burden on students with textbook affordability initiatives.

Selecting Textbooks/Costs

Selecting textbooks and other resources for classes is a key responsibility of faculty, and picking the ones that match the instructor's goals and help students learn is a challenging task. But price is rarely considered in this decision making process. The goal of this site is to help students and faculty alike understand the importance of and process for considering price as one factor in selecting textbooks. Reducing price, sometimes all the way to $0, can improve quality, equity and student learning, as supported by the research of Robinson, Fischer, Wiley, and Hilton (2014).  So read on, and learn how to make this happen!

MOST Initiative

During the fall semester of 2013, the University System of Maryland Student Council (USMSC) piloted a program, the Maryland Open Source Textbook Initiative (MOST) to allow interested faculty members in high-enrollment, entry-level classes to use open-source textbooks. The program, published under a publicly accessible copyright license, allows professors to customize textbook material from a pool of online resources, videos and graphics. Professors who taught large introductory courses at this university and other university system institutions learned about the features of open-source textbooks in guided workshops. In the spring of 2014, the council analyzed the effectiveness of the program by examining student satisfaction, academic achievement and faculty willingness to use the resources. MOST was established to address the root of the textbook affordability problems, and explore affordable options. Members of the University System of Maryland and the USMSC are still evaluating the program, and exploring how to improve it for the upcoming years.

Did You Know?

  • College textbook prices increased by 186% between 1986 and 2004. (U.S. Department of Education)
  • An open source textbook is just like any textbook, except it has a nonrestricted copyright license
  • UMD estimates students spend $1,130 on books and supplies. (Office of Admissions)
  • 48% of Maryland students say that textbook prices affect which/how many classes they choose to take. (SGA and MaryPIRG survey)
  • 65% of Maryland student consumers have opted out of buying a college textbook due to its high price. (SGA and MaryPIRG survey)
  • In Fall 2014, students saved $873,393.00 at the University Book Center (UBC) by purchasing used books and renting their textbooks. (University Book Center)

Students Spend