The U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a report this week called, “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How Students Respond to High Textbook Costs and Demand Alternatives.” The report features responses to a survey administered to over 2,000 students across 163 college campuses in the U.S. in regards to the rising cost of textbooks and how it affects student usage and academic performance. The report has been making the rounds in major news outlets and is highlighted in a letter to Congress by Senators Durbin and Franken as a push for the Affordable College Textbook Act. It is available for anyone to read online under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license, but here are the tl;dr highlights:
What the survey results say
- 65% of students choose not to buy a college textbook because it’s too expensive
- 94% report that they suffer academically because of this choice
- 48% say they altered which classes they took based on textbook costs, either taking fewer classes or different classes
- Senator Durbin wholeheartedly agrees: “According to the students surveyed in this report, the rising cost of textbooks not only adds to the overall financial burden of attending college, it can also have a measurably negative impact on their academic performance and student outcomes.”
- 82% of students say they would do significantly better in a course if the textbook were free online and a hard copy was optional!
- Case studies at both Houston Community College and Virginia State University suggest that classes using open textbooks have higher grades and better course completion rates
Textbook industry facts
(as reported by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs)
- College textbook prices have increased by 82% in the past ten years, aka 3x the rate of inflation
- Though alternatives to the new print edition textbooks exist, the costs of these alternatives (such as rental programs, used book markets and e-textbooks) are still dictated by publishers who re-issue editions every few years
- Ethan Sendack at U.S. PIRG says: “[Students] can’t shop around and find the most affordable option, meaning there’s no consumer control on the market.”
- On average students spend $1,200 a year on textbooks which = 14% of tuition at a four-year, public college; 39% of tuition at community college
Open textbook facts
- Open textbooks are written by faculty and peer-reviewed like traditional textbooks
- Open textbooks are free to access, use, download to electronic devices, and affordable to print — all thanks to the open content licenses on them that legally allows these uses
- U.S. PIRG estimates that open textbooks could save each student ~$100 per course they take
Find out for yourself
Links to the press release, full report, and news coverage below.
- Press release: http://uspirg.org/news/usp/survey-shows-students-opting-out-buying-high-cost-textbooks
- Full report: http://uspirg.org/reports/usp/fixing-broken-textbook-market
- SPARC’s blog post: http://www.sparc.arl.org/blog/survey-says-textbook-costs-threat-student-success
- US News & World Report: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/01/28/report-high-textbook-prices-have-college-students-struggling
- NBC Today show: http://www.today.com/money/college-textbook-costs-more-outrageous-ever-2D11999533
- The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/open-textbooks-could-help-students-financially-and-academically-researchers-say/49839
What you can do
Support the Affordable College Textbook Act which would establish open textbook pilot programs at colleges and universities across the country! Learn more at http://www.sparc.arl.org/advocacy/national/act and read Senators Durbin and Franken’s Dear Colleague letter to Congress at http://www.sparc.arl.org/sites/default/files/S.%201704%20Dear%20Colleague.pdf.3 Comments »
At the beginning of summer, many of you told us how much you share in a survey for Shareable Magazine. The results of that survey have been translated into a study of “The New Sharing Economy” by Shareable and Latitude Research. Visually, the study features nifty diagrams depicting what we share the most and how sharing has evolved over time. Substantively, “The New Sharing Economy” reveals some encouraging trends, such as that sharing in the virtual world makes people more comfortable with the idea of sharing in the physical world (in fact everyone in the study who shared online also shared offline), and that most of these people believe they will partake in even greater corporeal sharing in the next five years.
But the most encouraging trend the study revealed was that Creative Commons is playing a huge infrastructural role in this new sharing economy—that CC is, in fact, daily saving the world from failed sharing:
“Of those who share information and media online, approximately 2 in 3
participants use other people’s creations licensed under Creative Commons.”
The benefits of Creative Commons are often difficult to see, as a functioning system is only ever noticed when it fails. But as sharing only increases over time, both on- and offline, you can be sure that CC superheroes are at work behind the scenes slashing through the red tape, identifying and fixing the bugs, opening closed systems, implementing better policies, educating the public, and generally making sure things are running smoothly so that the web can continue to grow. Because the majority of study participants also connected sharing with being “better for the environment,” “saving money,” and being “good for society”—all stuff which, it turns out, CC is quietly helping us to do.
The study is available under CC BY-NC-ND. To learn more, check out Shareable’s post, and please consider joining us in the fight for openness and innovation.No Comments »
Last week, Shareable—the online magazine about sharing culture—launched a survey asking you how much you share. The survey contributed to CC’s Catalyst Campaign, which is continuing through the month of June. This week, CC talks with Shareable co-founder and publisher, Neal Gorenflo.
The caption for Shareable is “Design for a shareable world.” “Design” is a huge buzz word nowadays — what do you mean by “design”? What is the purpose or mission of the magazine and how does it relate to openness?
The word “design” signals intent. We write about those who intentionally design for shareability, whether they be an entrepreneur creating a product service system like carsharing or a parent creating a babysitting co-op in their neighborhood. And we host discussion about how to make different facets of the world more shareable.
Like Creative Commons, Shareable acts on the idea that sharing is not merely nice, but essential to our ability to create, thus survive as a species. As in the digital world, so is it in the material world—our ability to change depends on sharing and openness.
Our mission at Shareable is to help people share. We write about the sharing lifestyle with lots of How-to’s. And we report on the emergence of a new society based on the logic of sharing to inspire action. We think sharing is one of the best ways to cope with the social, economic and environmental crises we face.
What led you to start Shareable? As the publisher, what exactly do you do?
I didn’t have a choice. I saw from the inside how the global economy worked. And how it felt to live out its value system. From these experiences, I saw that it was moving us toward collapse. I also wanted a better life for myself. I found the earn-and-spend-life meaningless, not to mention incredibly boring. I took a year off in 2004 to find a purpose for my life. That eventually lead to the founding of Shareable.
Wow, the title ‘publisher’ sounds old fashioned. Maybe I should change my title. Any suggestions? Whatever the title, my job is to attract talented people to the project and help them succeed. A lot of the time that means staying out of the way. But it also means raising money and helping our stakeholders reach consensus on important decisions.
Can you give us an example of a story that would be Shareable (aka particularly compelling for your magazine)?
Dude, Where’s Our Car? is the Hightower family’s struggle to survive the Great Recession, how they use sharing, not always enthusiastically at first, to create a new life, one with less stuff and more satisfaction. It talks about the surprising results of giving up the prized family car, the last vestige of their identity as high-powered consumers. It’s a Shareable classic because it’s a poignant story of transformation with practical how-to advice.
Shareable readers also value our social enterprise pieces like Would You Share Your Car With A Stranger?, which is about the rise of peer-to-peer car sharing. And our Shareable Cities series epitomized by Can Cities Be Designed for Happiness?.
Shareable is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA. Why did you guys go with this particular license? What does the CC license enable that traditional copyright cannot? How has CC changed or contributed to the sharing landscape?
We went with the CC BY-NC-SA license because not all of Shareable contributors are OK with commercial use of their work. Our CC license is incredibly useful. It gives anyone permission to share our work without needing to ask, which is exactly what we as a mission-driven nonprofit want our readers to do. So please dear readers, republish our stories!
Creative Commons has had a huge impact on sharing by making it cool, and for telling the sometimes scary truth in a capitalist society—that we need sharing to survive.
What’s this I hear about Shareable paying people $10 to take a survey, and that the money may be donated to Creative Commons or the Project for Public Spaces?
Yes, guilty as charged. Shareable and Latitude Research are doing what might be the first ever sharing industry survey. The point of the survey is to uncover actionable insight that can help accelerate the growth of the sharing industry.
Want to help? Then please take the survey. At the end of the survey, you can chose to donate your $10 incentive to Creative Commons.*
Are there any last thoughts you’d like to share with the CC community, or the world?
Sharing is the killer app. We live in a time of interrelated social, economic, and environmental crisis. We can not treat these crises separately. We need systemic interventions like sharing. Sharing is arguably the most effective form of resource use reduction, not to mention it can build social solidarity, alleviate poverty by increasing access to resources, and grow service jobs at home.No Comments »
The study will assess individuals’ awareness of current shared offerings, their attitudes about sharing and trust, and their engagement with sharing across a variety of contexts. Participants will be contributing to a relatively new and increasingly important knowledge base. Moreover, they will be playing a critical role in helping to generate new ideas and opportunities for the future of sharing. (Results will be shared on both Shareable.net and Latitude’s life-connected.com in the coming weeks.)
At the end of the survey, you’ll get paid $10; you can choose to pocket it as an Amazon gift card or donate the cash towards the Creative Commons Catalyst Campaign that’s going on right now… or the Project for Public Spaces (we hope you’ll choose CC!).
So help Shareable and CC out–take the survey!
You can learn more about the survey here. Shareable magazine is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA. For more on Shareable, stay tuned as CC Talks With Shareable co-founder and publisher, Neal Gorenflo, to go live next week.4 Comments »
Thanks to all of you who filled out the OER Copyright Survey! The survey is now closed, with many thoughtful responses. Again, we appreciate your responses, among which was an overarching request to have the survey translated. We definitely hope and intend to broaden the survey to more countries and in more languages in the future, and are open to ideas and support. Please contact us if you, an individual you know, or a project/organization you are in touch with is interested in participating in the next stages of research. Participation can be anything from simply responding to the survey in your own language or helping to translate, organize, or analyze the data.2 Comments »
If you haven’t already, break up your Monday with the OER Copyright Survey. It only takes ten minutes, and it’s for a good cause—mainly to “gather information regarding the ways in which copyright law plays a role in, and perhaps acts as a barrier to, the practices of those who create or facilitate the production of Open Educational Resources (OER).”
From the survey page,
“Because most content remains “all-rights-reserved” under the traditional rules of copyright, it is often the case that the creators and producers of OER must confront questions as to when and if it is permissible to use content created by others when it is not offered under an open license. For example, an OER creator may want to incorporate a clip from a film into a lesson about film techniques, or an animated video illustrating a biological process into a lesson about that process. However, if the film clip or animation is protected by “all-rights-reserved” copyright, then the OER creator may be unsure how to proceed, or may wish to rely on some exception to copyright law that may apply under such circumstances.
It is our goal to develop a deeper awareness of the degree to which OER practitioners and users grapple with copyright law issues, and whether those issues pose barriers to the creation, dissemination, and reuse of OER. We hope that this initial survey will form the basis of a larger international study led by ccLearn.”
The survey closes on August 31, so fill it out soon!No Comments »