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Free Textbooks Cut Costs for College Students

More than a dozen professors at Carl Sandburg College are teaching courses without textbooks, or with free ones. Two years ago, the community college in Galesburg started its Open Education Resource Course Initiative.

Linda Lee, CSC Assoc. Dir. of of Educational Technology and Innovation
Credit submitted / Carl Sandburg College
Carl Sandburg College
Linda Lee, CSC Assoc. Dir. of of Educational Technology and Innovation

Linda Lee teaches computer science and helps faculty with new technology. She decided, "We have to do something," after a student showed her a bag of books that cost him $900. Now in its third year, the open resources initiative has helped students save $350,000.

Faculty are encouraged to use free and open access course materials and earn points for blogging about it. That's a requirement, Lee says, so other instructors can learn from them.The  points can be traded in for rewards, such as an iPad.

Sandburg recently added a new component to the initiative called, Library Buddies.

A library researcher is assigned to help the teacher find materials to replace textbooks. Five more professors signed up when we started offering it last month, saying that's what's so overwhelming.

Sandburg's Open Education Resource Course Initiative is flexible and helps professors update materials more frequently. In some subjects, Lee says many textbooks are already out-of-date by the time they're published.

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