MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

June 18, 2013

OU puts more course material online to reduce textbook costs

NORMAN (AP) — Students are saving money on textbooks because of a program that puts more college course material online, according to University of Oklahoma officials.

The first year of the Textbook Alternatives Initiatives has saved students about 25 percent of the typical $1,400 yearly cost of textbooks, according to OU President David Boren's office, a cost that Vice Provost Kyle Harper said is often too high.

"The price of textbooks in many cases is absurd, and the value added by new editions and other ways that publishers find to make students buy books doesn't add that value that would justify that cost that they ask," Harper told the Tulsa World.

The push to put more material online came after a study found that up to 70 percent of OU students aren't buying books because of the cost, which associate chemistry professor Mark Morvant said is rising about 8 percent a year.

Morvant, who is also the executive director of the university's Center for Teaching Excellence, is leading the online effort. Morvant said he was shocked to find out that a new textbook for one of his organic chemistry classes costs $252, and that many students weren't buying it because of the high price.

"My students couldn't afford it," he said. "I was quite upset."

In general, OU faculty members have been open to the idea of going online, he said.

"We're saying, think about student cost," Morvant said. "Think about the research that says students don't have access to the high-priced material because of the costs, and if you need help, come to us."

The university library has hired an open-access resource librarian to help faculty members find available online resources, he said, and the faculty can create materials that are better suited to their classes.

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