Looking for free textbooks to use in high school or college? HowtoLearn.com recommends OpenStax.
This year, over 2.2 million students are saving an estimated $177 million by using free textbooks from OpenStax, the Rice University-based publisher of open educational resource materials.
Since 2012, OpenStax’s 29 free, peer-reviewed, openly licensed textbooks for the highest-enrolled high school and college courses have been used by more than 6 million students. This year, OpenStax added several new books to its library, including Biology for AP® Courses, Introductory Business Statistics and second editions of its economics titles.
OpenStax books are having a tangible, marketwide impact, according to a 2017 Babson Survey that found that “the rate of adoption of OpenStax textbooks among faculty teaching large-enrollment courses is now at 16.5 percent, a rate which rivals that of most commercial textbooks.”
“We’re excited about the rapidly growing number of instructors making the leap to open textbooks,” said OpenStax founder Richard Baraniuk, who is also the Victor E. Cameron Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice. “Our community is creating a movement that will make a big impact on college affordability. The success of open textbooks like OpenStax have ignited competition in the textbook market, and textbook prices are actually falling for the first time in 50 years.”
As a result of the unprecedented downward shift in textbook prices, OpenStax will be decreasing its estimated student savings figure from $98.57 to $79.37 based on federal data. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics published a study in May stating the average undergraduate student spent $555.60 on required course materials for the academic year. Dividing that number by seven courses (the undergraduate average, according to enrollment data) comes out to $79.37 in savings for each student using an OpenStax book.
“This is exactly what we hoped to see,” OpenStax Managing Director Daniel Williamson said. “We’re thrilled about this shift because when open materials drive the price of all textbooks lower, it means our books haven’t just impacted the students who use them – they’re indirectly saving money for every student in the market. We hope to see that ‘average price’ figure shrink even further as open materials reach more students at more institutions in more locations around the world.”
More than 5,160 institutions — including 48 percent of colleges in the U.S.– are using OpenStax this year, and that also includes over 1,150 schools outside the U.S. This year, OpenStax partnered with organizations in the U.K. and Poland to promote the use of affordable, open texts worldwide. In total, over 16,200 instructors are currently using an OpenStax textbook, and the numbers are expected to continue to rise, said David Harris, editor-in-chief of OpenStax.
“We’ve surpassed our goal of saving students $500 million by 2020,” Harris said. “I’m inspired by the communities of open practitioners — educators, institutions and students — who have formed around our books and have continued to grow, develop and create everything from Canvas course shells to customized textbooks to assessments that they’re sharing back with other instructors. The freedoms of the open license are enabling instructors to innovate and invent, and students are benefiting from it.”
As a nonprofit education technology initiative that is supported by philanthropic foundations, OpenStax is committed to improving access to quality learning materials. In addition to college textbooks, OpenStax also provides Advanced Placement textbooks that are developed and peer-reviewed by educators, along with low-cost, personalized courseware that helps students learn. For more information, visit OpenStax..