Students stage ‘textbook rebellion’ at University of Maryland

Eighty-one percent of students said a new edition of their textbook had impacted the resale value, and about half said the textbook had been “customized for use only at your school.”

Plotkin, the ED official who joined the Textbook Rebellion, said department decision-makers would continue to view open textbooks as “a critical tool” in making higher education more affordable and increasing the country’s college graduates over the next decade.

Advocates for open educational resources for K-12 schools and colleges and universities lauded Obama’s 2009 selection of Martha Kanter as the Undersecretary of Education after Kanter expressed public support for a California law that aimed to bolster textbooks available for free to low price.

The Textbook Rebellion event included examples of how faculty members concerned with the high price of books could provide affordable texts for their students.

Charles Stangor, a psychology professor at UMD, wrote an open textbook for his Introduction to Psychology course using the alternative publishing company Flat World Knowledge, meaning the class’s 800 students this fall can buy their required textbook for minimal cost or read it for free online.

“I think it’s fair to say that every faculty member and administrator on this campus thinks books cost too much. No one is denying that,” Stangor said. He added that his textbook was peer reviewed by a dozen faculty members from across the country before it was made available through Flat World Knowledge.

Stangor said he hoped his UMD colleagues would follow suit and make their own books available as an open resource, while conceding that he hadn’t yet become an open-textbook activist.

“It’s an individual decision,” he said. “If they want to [publish an open book], they should. … I don’t try to lobby them at all.”

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