WASHINGTON, DC--(ENEWSPF)--September 24, 2009. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today introduced legislation designed to help students manage costs by making textbooks available to students, professors and the public for free on an easily-accessible website. This bill, known as the Open College Textbook Act, would create a competitive grant program for institutions of higher education, professors and organizations to create textbooks that can be made available online and licensed under terms that grant the public the right to access, customize and distribute the material, also known as “open textbooks”.
“Over the past decade, I have watched textbook publishers use technology to drive up the cost of textbooks through unnecessary online supplements and CD-ROMs,” said Durbin. “Today, the average college student spends between $800 and $1,200 on textbooks every year. It is time that we use the potential of technology to improve college access, learning and affordability for all students. I believe the Open College Textbook Act that I am introducing today will accomplish that goal.”
According to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, 200,000 qualified students fail to enroll in college each year due to cost. The high cost of college textbooks can be a significant financial barrier for many students. At the same time, the growth of the Internet has enabled the creation and sharing of open content, including open educational resources.
The Open College Textbook Act would:
* Authorize funding through fiscal year 2015 for the Secretary of Education to award one-year competitive grants to create, update or adapt high-quality introductory level open college textbooks;
* Require applicants to provide a plan for quality review, a plan to ensure the widest possible availability of the textbook, a plan to ensure the widest possible adoption of the textbook in college courses and a plan for tracking and reporting adoptions of the text book at colleges;
* Require the Secretary of Education to give special consideration to applicants that demonstrate the ability to produce the highest quality textbooks, textbooks for the highest enrollment college courses, textbooks that are easily used by professors and textbooks in partnership with an organization to assist in marketing and distribution;
* Require a report to the Secretary of Education from the grant recipient detailing the costs of the project and a report from the Secretary to Congress on the savings generated for students through the use of open textbooks; and
* Direct that any curriculum or textbook created through federal grants for use in classrooms be licensed under an open license and made freely available to the public.