1 Kevin Hamlett, Rex Weeks Hamlett Weeks 1 Dr. Neumann MIS 111 Honors 28 November 2014 U Books I. Introduction Year after year college students battle with raising costs of higher education. Tuition, housing, and meal plans make purchasing over-priced and under-used textbooks an immediate issue. Most of these textbooks are never used or do not even fit the course that they are assigned to. Many students are now constantly looking for alternatives for buying new textbooks such as paying for obsolete used books, renting, or even declining to purchase some textbooks at all. The used textbooks are often in horrid condition and are missing several pages, which could render the book useless. Renting textbooks is a pain because you cannot write inside the book or highlight any of the text without receiving a fine for tampering with the book. Finally, not buying a textbook at all could severely hurt the student because he or she could potentially miss crucial homework assignments and would lack the materials needed to study for quizzes and exams. Adding open source textbooks, or U Books, to the University of Arizona s Open Resource Library or joining a pre-existing network such as OpenStax College and Flat World Knowledge can dramatically assist to deter these looming costs. II. Open Source Textbooks Open source textbooks are free, open-licensed, and available to everyone. A network of professors typically develop these textbooks to match the state s curriculum,
2 Hamlett Weeks 2 a standard that is predetermined by all of the schools involved, or it is designed for a specific course. These online textbooks provide a one size fits all approach to distributing books. The online text would replace the current textbook required by teachers for classes. Designating this online textbook as the main reading material for the course would also eliminate confounding commonly found with traditional textbooks. Only one edition of the textbook is produced. However, the online accessibility aspect of this product enables up-date, yearly revisions of the textbooks. This ensues all professors are instructing students with the most current and accurate information. In addition, open source textbooks can further be edited to support interactive modules, run applications, embed videos, and display links related websites for further reading. These textbooks are available in numerous methods: web, pdf, html, xml, e-book, audio books, and print. The print copies are typically available in much smaller quantities than traditionally expected. This helps to lower the price of the print copy if the student still desires an old-fashioned paperback or hardcover textbook. Created under an open license, open source textbooks can be edited by anyone so long as the author is cited. Typically, the license allows the professors to edit and make major changes and students only review the text for applicability, proofreading, and other readability errors. Some licenses are also restricted to non-redistribution of the content for commercial purposes or require all further adaptations to be licensed in the same manner. These type of open licenses are available through Creative Commons. Open source textbooks may initially seem problematic to fund, as the textbooks are free of cost. Many colleges obtain government grants to finance this program. Selling advertisement space on the websites and applications are another method of sustaining
3 Hamlett Weeks 3 this program. In addition, there are many unique, independent associations willing to offer financial support for this noble innovation. Of course, donations are always gladly accepted. However, some websites such as Flat World offer an ability to purchase codes for these online books and learning guides selected by the professor for a course at much cheaper prices in an effort to offer the authors royalties. III. Campus Value Proposition The incorporation of U Books, or open source textbooks, within the Open Resource Library would give teachers the opportunity to provide customized textbooks to fit courses as designed. This technology would allow teachers to create PowerPoints to correspond with the textbooks directly. In addition, teachers would be able to supplement the online text with interactive modules to illustrate examples of complicated concepts. To expand further upon a concept, web links such as YouTube clips or Webassign questions may also be embedded within the online text. Though this may appear to be additional work for the professors, there are methods of compensation within this program. The professors would only have to create the textbook once as well. This may even spark a new occupation opportunity for drafting online textbooks here at the university. This program can present certain challenges as far as sustainability. The governments provides grants to help support advancement in this field of reducing the cost of higher education. If the University of Arizona can obtain a grant, this can help to cover some of the cost of this program. In addition, with the proper license, the bookstore may continue to sell the print versions of these new, online textbooks. Previously mentioned before, companies such as Flat World Knowledge, operate with
4 Hamlett Weeks 4 the intent to remain profitable. The university can join this company to continue to sell low cost online textbooks, far lower than current print textbooks, in order to offset labor costs and continue to raise money for the institution. The University of Arizona s campus bookstore would generally remain the same. The most common majors textbooks would initially be sold in lower volumes, as these are typically the first online textbooks created within an open resource library. This would still maintain majority of the university s profitability with current textbook sales. With the innovation of accessible, online books, less retail space will be necessary to sell print copies. The campus store could then distribute more of other goods such as fanfare, clothes, dorm supplies, etc. on this additional floor space. Eventually, these textbooks will also eliminate the need for the textbook recycling stands dispersed across campus. IV. Customer Value Proposition Students can access the textbooks and study aids at any time on a personalized interface for each student profile. The students can access these textbooks anywhere they have an internet connection. In addition, students can download the HTML file format while they are online so they have access to the textbook when they do not have internet access, eliminating the need to carry around multiple textbooks in your backpack. Students can also highlight words and sentences in the textbook because they do not have to return the textbook at the end of the semester, unlike textbooks that students rent. These online textbooks can be edited and color-coded based on the student s liking. This customization allows the students to interact with the text, maximizing learning in the process. Professors edit these textbooks therefore; all of the
5 Hamlett Weeks 5 content is relevant. This means that students do not have to filter out which information is important and which is not, saving the students valuable time. There are many financial obstacles that purchasing hardcover textbooks set in place. 65% of students said that they had decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive, (USPIRG.org). In addition, nearly half of all students surveyed said that the cost of textbooks impacted how many/which classes they took each semester, (USPIRG.org). The absurd costs of today s textbooks should never dictate a student s likeliness to pursue his or her educational interests. According to the NPR.org, the costs of textbooks has nearly doubled since 2002, accelerating more rapidly than health care and real estate prices. Collegeboard.org estimates students spend around one thousand two hundred dollars a year on textbooks. This vast decrease in prices would greatly benefit students in their families. In addition, the university would gain more students following the U-Books adoptions because parents would recognize the low cost of books. Though many may overlook the decrease in price of textbooks, students and their families would save almost five thousand dollars over a student s four-year tenure at a university. This shows that U-Books would save not only every student money, but also it would also save students valuable time. Something that is at a minimum in college. V. Organizations and Companies Involved In order to make the creation of these U Books run smoothly and be successful; the university can adopt one of two companies: OpenStax and Flat World. Both of these companies offer online textbooks that have been customized or edited by professors. Although these companies are very similar, certain differences would definitely affect which company the university would select to adopt. OpenStax is a non-profit
6 Hamlett Weeks 6 organization that offers free textbooks to students. As mentioned before, these books are edited by professionals so, the books are accurate, readable, and fit course requirements. Due to the lack of cost, the university would then have to offer some sort of incentive for teachers to come together and make these textbooks. Grants are viable option, which is easier than trying to find money in the school s budget to allow for professor s additional workload. Flat World s online textbooks are available for purchase. These online textbooks usually cost between twenty and forty dollars. Although these textbooks are not free, they are far more affordable than traditional textbooks. One textbook at the UA bookstore can cost upwards of two-hundred dollars. Teachers also edit the textbooks Flat World offers but, unlike OpenStax, teachers can include URLs, YouTube clips, and other interactive features. These features are included within the online textbooks making these textbooks higher in quality when compared to ordinary textbooks. The university can readily begin drafting these U Books by adopting one of these already established companies, such as Flat World. This seems like the better business model for a couple of reasons. First off, the university would not have to worry about receiving large grants in order to compensate the teachers that edit the textbooks. A portion of the money that the bookstore makes from sales of the online textbooks would be given to the teachers assisted in editing the books. This would mean the university would only need to receive a few small grants in order to offset further costs, if necessary. Second, the textbooks that Flat World offers are more high-tech and intuitive. Their interactive features allow students to benefit more from using these books than they would by using ordinary paper textbooks. For example, a professor
7 Hamlett Weeks 7 could place a YouTube clip of a math problem inside of an online textbook to demonstrate how to solve the problem. By collaborating with Flat World to create these online textbooks, the university provides students the most appropriate textbooks for their courses while giving the teachers enough incentive to customize these textbooks. VI. Conclusion As it stands today, the average student spends one thousand two hundred dollars on textbooks a year and a single textbook can cost up to two hundred dollars. Even if students do not spend two-hundred dollars on each textbook, they will spend close to that amount. These costs, along with tuition, meal plans, and other miscellaneous costs add up and could place a student in debt before they even know it. Most schools offer alternatives to buying textbooks that are cheaper for students to purchase. Although there are alternatives to buying new textbooks, these methods have flaws as well. First, buying used textbooks is a pain because these usually do not fit the course and have pages missing from them. These textbooks are unreliable and could hurt a student in the end. For example, a student may cause an uproar upon finding the necessary pages from the used textbook, missing the night an assignment is due. Students could rent books but they have to be returned in immaculate condition or else the student receives a fine. These fines can sometimes cost as much as the rent for a single textbook, so the student would ultimately end up paying full price for a textbook just for renting one. In addition, the rented books cannot be written in or tampered with in any way. Finally, students would no longer have to remember to bring specific textbooks to each class every single day. From now on, each student would soley need is his or her laptop, which is already commonplace here at the university.
8 Hamlett Weeks 8 All of these problems, along with many others, can be solved by using online textbooks. This alternative is very cheap, or even free, and allows the student to keep the textbook for the rest of his or her life if he or she wishes to download it. It allows the student to take notes on the certain text and highlight key terms or phrases all within the online textbook. In addition, by allowing the professors to edit the textbooks, the right textbooks would be assigned to each individual course, eliminating the possibility of a student purchasing a textbook that obsolete or outdated for his or her enrolled course. It also eliminates the possibility a textbook could go unused for the entire semester. These Open Source textbooks have very limited negative aspects. They would benefit the university by allowing teachers, students, and the university as a whole, to work collaboratively to provide accurate, affordable, and intuitive textbooks for all students. All of these advantages of U-Books would make the university a better place for professors and students to foster a smoother and more enjoyable learning experience.
9 Hamlett Weeks 9 Works Cited Allen, Nicole. The Future of Digital Textbooks. Studentpirgs.org. Center for Public Interest Research, Inc, Winter Web. 12 Dec Florida Distance Learning Consortium. "Open Access Textbooks: Project Info." Open Access Textbooks. Florida Distance Learning Consortium, Web. 12 Dec Kestenbaum, David. "How College Students Battled Textbook Publishers To A Draw, In 3 Graphs." NPR. NPR, 9 Oct Web. 16 Dec Senack, Ethan. Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How Students Respond to High Textbook Costs and Demand Alternatives. Studentpirgs.org. Center for Public Interest Research, Inc, Jan Web. 12 Dec The College Board. Trends in College Pricing Collegeboard.org. The College Board, Web. 3 Dec