OU to begin using Open Textbook Network, a free textbook resource

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Textbook prices can drastically affect a student’s bank account, but faculty members at Ohio University Libraries are looking to reduce those costs.

Open Textbook Network, or OTN, a resource for peer-reviewed academic textbooks, will start being used on campus come fall semester.

Kelly Broughton, the assistant dean for research & education services at OU, said, as a member of OTN, OU Libraries now has access to a suite of materials to adapt to the faculty at OU in support of efforts to reduce the costs of course materials to students.

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Free online textbook library launches for Ontario students

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An online library of free open-source textbooks has just launched this month for post-secondary students across Ontario, with a $1-million investment from the provincial government for more content on the way.

Created by eCampus Ontario, a not-for-profit corporation that works on projects for the province’s post-secondary institutions, the Open Textbook Library (OTL) currently has just over 180 textbooks in its database that are freely available to read and download.

According to Deb Matthews, the Ontario minister of advanced education and skills development, the library is based off of a similar OTL project in British Columbia that’s been running since 2012.

“If British Columbia is any example, they’ve saved students about four and a half million dollars over the past few years since they’ve launched, and we’ve got three times as many students. So this will be a big cost-saver,” Matthews said.

The $1-million investment will go into creating more learning material for the library, with a focus on increasing French language and Indigenous content, as well as adapting existing material for other fields.

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Open source textbooks, are they making the grade

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Finally, a bit of good news on the college costs front: A study out of Brigham Young University finds that free open source textbooks do the job pretty darn well.

The study of nearly 17,000 students at 9 colleges found that open source textbooks (or open educational resources — OERs in academic lingo) found that students learn the same amount or more from the free books across many subjects. (Here’s a sampling of the sorts of texts available, via a University of Minnesota site.)

What’s more, 85% of students and instructors said open textbooks were actually better than the commercial ones. The research focused its results based on measurements such as course completion, final grade, final grade of C- or higher, enrollment intensity, and enrollment intensity in the following semester.
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Free Textbook sources