Zero-cost textbooks recommended for students2 min read

Alex Woolner, Staff Reporter

I believe that zero-cost textbooks are a good idea. It will reduce some of the cost of school supplies that students have, and it has a chance to make accessing course material easier.

According to an article on insidehigher.com, a new legislative-funded effort to provide community college students with zero-cost textbooks has made ground. The course materials provided through Open Educational Resources are primarily online, free, and open sourced.

High-cost textbooks might add an unnecessary burden for students who are unhoused, struggle with food insecurity or rent-burdened. Providing the course materials free would help cash-strapped students.

Even though I personally prefer paper, this program would be a huge boost. It’s hard enough to afford classes as it is.

Providing the material online has other benefits. This means that students don’t need the physical textbook on hand in order to study.

OER material can be directly edited by users or through solicitation and incorporation of user feedback. Teachers have the ability to modify these textbooks and materials for their class.

A bonus is the use of different media formats. Since it’s online, the text can be used alongside videos which may make the material easier to learn.

However, there are cons to this system. Quality of the material would be an issue since many of the OER repositories allow for anyone to post material, meaning that some resources may not be accurate.

Despite the fact that material can be easily updated, sustainability would be an issue. OER creators don’t receive payment for their work which means there’s no incentive.

Another issue is that OERs require a computer with internet access. This can limit accessibility for students.

There is currently a bit of a language barrier. Most of the resources are only available in English, but there is an effort to make them accessible in other languages.

Zero-cost textbooks are an absolute must have thing. I have some reservations about it being online but I would recommend that students take advantage of it.

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