The following guest article is written by Sally Croft is a strong advocate of affordable online education and a regular contributor at www.onlinedegreetalk.org where she writes about ways to cut costs and save money by pursuing online education.

“What would you do if I told you a way to save off an extra $900 each year?” Ask cash strapped college students this question and you are most likely to meet with looks of disbelief. After all, how can students expect to save money when tuition fee continues to rise at unprecedented rates, food and travel is more expensive than ever before and textbooks make a significant dent in the pocket.

Yes textbooks…

Textbooks prices have risen by 186% since 1986 and continue to rise at twice the rate of inflation leading many people to speculate about textbook pricing scams, and how this is a self serving industry where publishers get to have their say, but is there an alternative?

What if you could get your Textbooks for FREE?

Ever heard of open source textbooks? An open source textbook “is a textbook published under an open license, offered online by its author(s) or through a non-profit or commercial open-licensed publisher.”

Simply put, an open course textbook is a textbook that you can access for free. High textbook prices, need for greater accessibility to quality educational material and the potentials offered by online publishing are some of the factors that have prompted the production of open source textbooks.

Open source textbooks are just one part of the puzzle. If they are supplemented with other open source educational resources, we can imagine a completely new, interactive and collaborative way of teaching that not only accommodates students with different learning styles but makes education affordable.

Cut down 80% or more from your Textbook Budget

Students can access these books in three ways: they can get a digital copy, a print version or they can print it themselves. While digital copies cost nothing, the average cost of print versions is around $25.

Even if students go for colored copies of books which cost $64, they would still be able to saving more than a 100 bucks on each book (the cost of an average textbook is $117)! Open textbooks offer 80% or more savings to higher education students over traditional textbooks.

The affordability of open source textbooks has made University of Minnesota start a where they not only pay professors to encourage them to start teaching through them but also to review open source textbooks and thus control and ensure the quality of these textbook. The Hewlett and Gates foundations are also funding open source textbooks.

Flexibility, Accessibility, Convenience And Affordability All Rolled In One

Already online education had made education cost effective, flexible and accessible and now open source textbooks are ready to make it even more affordable and bring it within everyone’s reach

While open source textbooks are being adopted by traditional, campus based colleges to provide financial relieve to students, some concerns still remain, such as the availability of e-readers and opposition from campus bookstores.

Consequently some of the biggest supporters for open source textbooks have been proponents of online learning where all the study is carried out on the internet though desktops, laptops and tablets anyway; and several online instructors have enthusiastically embraced open source textbooks as part of their coursework.

Where do I get these Open Source Textbooks from?

Here are a few places from where you can access open source textbooks:

  • Flatworldknowledge.com
  • Cnx.org
  • OER commons
  • Merlot.org
  • Collegeopentextbooks.org

Yes, go get that Macbook Air or plan for that trip that you had wanted to go on forever or just use those 900 bucks to pay your debt and enjoy your college experience a bit more.

Last updated: June 15, 2012 by & filed under Blog

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