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No one wants to pay $200 for a textbook

EdScoop -“No one wants to pay $200 for a textbook, and soon no one will have to, because the $200 textbook may be disappearing. Like other technological trends that were plodding along before COVID-19, the use of digital resources and freely licensed learning materials — known as open educational resources, or OER — exploded in 2020. And that growth comes with an added bonus for students: For the first time in decades, textbook prices are dropping. According to Mark Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint, OER can be credited with the downturn. A widely circulated 2019 chart designed by Perry showed that while the cost consumer goods like TVs and toys has dropped over the past two decades, lines on the graph for essential goods and services — including food, housing, medical care, child care, education and textbooks — have continued to arch upward. But recently, the textbook line has started sagging, which Perry attributes to an “open textbook effect” that’s taken off during the pandemic. The trend can be seen in the subscription rates of OER publishers like Rice University’s OpenStax, which saw a doubling during the health crisis in the number of students using its materials to 4 million. The nonprofit publisher is branching out beyond books, too, with a new courseware platform enjoying 300% annual growth. Daniel Williamson, OpenStax’s managing director, told EdScoop that more professors are finding OER while seeking out new ways to make their pandemic-era online classrooms more engaging. And while OER once had more of a bootleg vibe, it’s become more polished and increasingly offers compatibility with major learning management…”

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