MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — A new program at Middle Tennessee State University aims to counteract the rising cost of textbooks, by saving students money.
The university received $100,000 in grant money from the Tennessee Board of Regents at the end of last year to support the use of more Open Educational Resources (OER).
Instead of using traditional textbooks, OER allow faculty members to publish information required for courses in an open format. This allows students to use, re-use and download the information. The resources can be accessed online for free, or printed at a significantly lower cost than a standard textbook.
"One of the things we are seeing is students are choosing not to take classes with expensive textbooks," said Dr. Ryan Korstange, Assistant Professor in the University Studies Department and a coordinator of the program. "Or they are not buying expensive textbooks, and still enrolling in the classes, even knowing they will have a lower grade as a result."
Dr. Korstange estimated a student could spend as much as $1,500 a year on textbooks. He said by reducing that cost, it will allow more people to have access to a college education.
"We are targeting faculty in high enrollment courses," said Dr. Korstange. "They affect a lot of students, and they are courses that affect a larger path for a lot of students."
Grant money will allow MTSU to educate faculty members on the process, and compensate them for the time it takes to redesign their course content. The university started training 30 faculty members last week, and hopes to have more involved in the Fall.