New state policy could lower textbook costs

Students and educators in California community colleges will soon have access to textbooks and other classroom materials made under the Creative Commons Attribution license, a policy that could save money for taxpayers, campuses, and students.

Students can spend upwards of $1,00 annually on required textbooks.

The California Community Colleges Board of Governors on Sept. 9 voted to require any and all material created with state funding to be available at no charge to anyone in the state, including college students.

The state’s new policy will make it so “individuals, nonprofits, and businesses permission to use and build upon material created with public funds, so long as the creator is credited.”

This could include textbooks created under the license, perhaps saving students from purchasing new and used books that cost upwards of $1,000 a year.

“The internet and technology have made it possible to collaborate and share knowledge more efficiently than ever before, and open licensing enables us to take full advantage of it,” said Nicole Allen, program director for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), which advocates for policies lowering textbook costs. “The California Community Colleges have stepped up as a national leader by adopting a policy to license works created through grants and contracts for free public use. This is a simple and logical step that any institution can take to ensure that students, faculty, and the public get the full benefit of resources it creates.”

The $2 billion United States Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants already fall under the Creative Commons Attribution license requirements.

Barbara Illowsky, a De Anza College mathematics professor, along with fellow professor Susan Dean, co-wrote a statistics book in the mid-1990s and made it an open education resource in 2007 under a Creative Commons license.

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