OU pushes online material as textbook alternative

From staff and wire reports
June 19th, 2013

Some college students go without required textbooks.

Students are saving money on textbooks because of a program that puts more college course material online, according to University of Oklahoma officials.

The first year of the Textbook Alternatives Initiatives has saved students about 25 percent of the typical $1,400 yearly cost of textbooks, according to OU President David Boren’s office, a cost that Vice Provost Kyle Harper said is often too high.

“The price of textbooks in many cases is absurd, and the value added by new editions and other ways that publishers find to make students buy books doesn’t add that value that would justify that cost that they ask,” Harper told the Tulsa World.

The push to put more material online came after a study found that up to 70 percent of OU students aren’t buying books because of the cost, which associate chemistry professor Mark Morvant said is rising about 8 percent a year.

Morvant, who is also the executive director of the university’s Center for Teaching Excellence, is leading the online effort. Morvant said he was shocked to find out that a new textbook for one of his organic chemistry classes costs $252, and that many students weren’t buying it because of the high price.

“My students couldn’t afford it,” he said. “I was quite upset.”

In general, OU faculty members have been open to the idea of going online, he said.

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2 Responses to “OU pushes online material as textbook alternative”

June 20, 2013

Just to clarify. The average student in OU is not spending $1,400 a year on college textbooks. The school estimates for “budgeting” purposes that students should plan for $1,200 in the 2012-2013 school year for course materials, supplies, equipment, and lab fees.

According to a 2012 national student survey, Student Watch, required course materials only account for about 57% of the so called “books and supplies” cost of attendance budget category universities publish in their budget costs.

Nationally students are reporting in several student surveys that their spending on required course materials has been flat to declining over the last five years at about $662 a year.

Also the 70% figure is from a 2011 Student PIRGs survey that found 70% of students when questioned indicated that they had opted not to buy a single textbook at least once due to the cost of that textbook. Other student surveys have found that cost is a major factor in decision making, however other factors like to what extent the faculty will use the material play a far greater influence on the decision to purchase.

None of this takes away from the great efforts OU are making to help students.

June 24, 2013

I teach at a community college. Student’s textbooks average $100 per class. Times 4 classes per term (assuming full time load of 12 credits). Times 3 terms per school year. That’s $1200 in textbooks per school year. That’s a lot more than the low-ball figure of $662 which I think is highly unrealistic…

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