Congress Introduces Bill to Tackle College Textbook Costs – SPARC

“SPARC, a non-profit advocacy organization working to make education and research open and equitable, today applauded the reintroduction of the Affordable College Textbook Act in the U.S. Congress. The bill would address a key but often overlooked factor in the cost of higher education—the cost of textbooks—by establishing a grant program for the creation and use of free, openly licensed textbooks, while also strengthening federal price disclosure requirements for textbook publishers and institutions. If passed, the program would build on the success of the Open Textbook Pilot which is already projected to save students an estimated $250 million since its creation in 2018….”

Canadian Copyright, Fair Dealing and Education, Part Five: Open Textbooks Saving Students Millions of Dollars – Michael Geist

“Adjacent to open access publication of research is the growth of open educational resources and open textbooks, which has been actively encouraged and supported by governments who recognize the benefits of investing in textbooks that can be freely copied, adapted, and distributed with no further licensing costs. The model typically involves an upfront payment for the creation of the materials (often through grants) with the stipulation that the licence that accompanies the resulting works will fully permit free and open use. Copyright lobby groups rarely acknowledge the emergence of these materials, which involve significant public expenditures to create and result in a long-term cost savings for educational institutions and their students. 

For example, the Ontario Government has provided funding for post-secondary institutions to create virtual open access resources. eCampusOntario’s Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) funding engaged Ontario’s post-secondary sector and resulted in the creation of hundreds new virtual educational resources. Other initiatives include Open Education Alberta (run by the University of Alberta), which offers 39 high-quality open educational resources through a partnership with five universities, three colleges, and four other educational institutions as well as BC Campus, which features hundreds of open textbooks. By August 2022, a total of 267,924 British Columbia students were using open textbooks. In 2020/21, 43 educational institutions across the province had replaced course materials with an open textbook – a practice known as adopting. Since 2019, there has been a 70% increase in the number of open textbook adoptions across B.C.

One of the clearest benefits are the cost savings for students. During 2020/21, around 9,000 students at the University of Saskatchewan used open textbooks instead of commercial texts, saving them about $800,000 collectively. Since the University launched its open textbook initiative in 2014, students have saved more than $2.5 million at that one university alone. Investments in the area continue as the University of British Columbia’s 2021/22 budget committed $2.5 million in future years to expand existing learning enhancements, technology tools, and open educational resources….”

Open Textbooks Pilot Program

“The Open Textbooks Pilot program supports projects at eligible institutions of higher education that create new open textbooks and expand the use of open textbooks in courses that are part of a degree-granting program, particularly those with high enrollments. This pilot program emphasizes the development of projects that demonstrate the greatest potential to achieve the highest level of savings for students through sustainable, expanded use of open textbooks in high-enrollment courses or in programs that prepare individuals for in-demand fields.”


Campus Efforts Save NU System Students $13 Million in Textbook Costs | News | University of Nebraska Omaha

“University of Nebraska (NU) System students have saved more than $13 million in textbook costs in recent years thanks to collective efforts of faculty and staff across the four campuses to expand access to more affordable digital course materials.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska at Kearney and University of Nebraska Medical Center all have launched programs to reduce textbook costs for students – part of a broad goal across the NU System to ensure affordable access to quality education for all students.

Known collectively as “Open Nebraska,” the campuses’ efforts are further evidence of the university’s commitment to reducing costs for students wherever possible, NU System President Ted Carter said….”

Oregon Tech faculty turn to open source materials to save students more than $1.2 million in textbook costs | News |

“Oregon Tech faculty are partnering with Oregon Tech Library’s Open Educational Resources (OER) program to reduce student costs associated with textbook materials, and throughout the past three years have saved Oregon Tech students $1,216,866 in textbook costs.

According to University Librarian John Schoppert, OER are freely accessible, high-quality coursework materials made accessible to students to alleviate the high costs of mainstream publisher textbooks. OER describes openly licensed materials and resources for any user to use, remix, reuse, repurpose and redistribute….”

US plans to open up govt-funded science research papers • The Register

“Swartz rejected a plea bargain that called for a six-month sentence and tried to get a deal with no jail time but MIT reportedly wouldn’t sign off on it. In January 2013, he killed himself at the age of 26.

A month later, the OSTP under the Obama administration issued a memo [PDF] titled, “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research.” It called for federal agencies and departments with over $100 million in annual research spending to develop a plan to promote greater access to publicly funded research.

But as Nelson points out in her memo, the old guidance endorsed a twelve-month post-publication embargo period that allowed academic publishers to maintain an exclusive, remunerative distribution window….

In 2019, the Trump administration contemplated an Executive Order to abolish the 12-month embargo window. But there was pushback from academic publishers and the science community, keen to keep the revenue generated during the embargo period. The Executive Order was never issued.

The economic analysis [PDF] published in conjunction with Nelson’s memo cites figures from the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) that show “the average cost to publish a research article from all funding sources falls between $2,000 and $3,000 dollars.” …

“Comparatively, the ‘production’ cost of depositing a federally funded research article into a free public access repository can be, conservatively, as low as $15 and even lower under a federally owned and managed repository such as PubMed,” the analysis says.

So getting rid of the year-long paywall period should save taxpayers between $390 million and $789 million, it’s estimated.”

Assessing the Impact of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework on the Relationship between University Scholarly Output and Education and Regional Economic Growth | Academy of Management Learning & Education

Abstract:  This paper assesses the relationship between stakeholder influence, university scholarly and educational output, and regional economic growth. Specifically, we theorize that stakeholder intervention with respect to university teaching and learning, scholarly research, and entrepreneurship enhances the contribution of universities to regional economic growth. We test this theory using data from the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF), an evaluation of the research impact of British higher education institutions. We find that business school graduates, as well as graduates in STEM and health fields, have a positive impact on regional human capital development. On the other hand, stakeholder influence, through the REF, appears to have a negative effect on the retention of human capital, but a positive effect on commercialization in the region. Our findings provide new evidence of positive economic spillovers arising from university research and education and the role of fields, such as business administration, in enhancing human capital development and economic growth. They also lend credence to the notion that graduates are an important channel of knowledge and technology transfer.


Widespread use of National Academies consensus reports by the American public | PNAS


Advocates for open access argue that people need scientific information, although they lack evidence for this. Using Google’s recently developed deep learning natural language processing model, which offers unrivalled comprehension of subtle differences in meaning, 1.6 million people downloading National Academies reports were classified, not just into broad categories such as researchers and teachers but also precisely delineated small groups such as hospital chaplains, veterans, and science fiction authors. The results reveal adults motivated to seek out the most credible sources, engage with challenging material, use it to improve the services they provide, and learn more about the world they live in. The picture contrasts starkly with the dominant narrative of a misinformed and manipulated public targeted by social media.


In seeking to understand how to protect the public information sphere from corruption, researchers understandably focus on dysfunction. However, parts of the public information ecosystem function very well, and understanding this as well will help in protecting and developing existing strengths. Here, we address this gap, focusing on public engagement with high-quality science-based information, consensus reports of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). Attending to public use is important to justify public investment in producing and making freely available high-quality, scientifically based reports. We deploy Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT), a high-performing, supervised machine learning model, to classify 1.6 million comments left by US downloaders of National Academies reports responding to a prompt asking how they intended to use the report. The results provide detailed, nationwide evidence of how the public uses open access scientifically based information. We find half of reported use to be academic—research, teaching, or studying. The other half reveals adults across the country seeking the highest-quality information to improve how they do their job, to help family members, to satisfy their curiosity, and to learn. Our results establish the existence of demand for high-quality information by the public and that such knowledge is widely deployed to improve provision of services. Knowing the importance of such information, policy makers can be encouraged to protect it.

Who Uses Open Access Research? Evidence from the use of US National Academies Reports   | Impact of Social Sciences

“A fundamental principle of open access is that publication technology enables the widest possible audience for research findings. However, the extent to which open research is used outside of academia is often underexplored. Drawing on a dataset covering over a million user comments about their use of US National Academies consensus study reports, Ameet Doshi, Diana Hicks, Matteo Zullo and Omar I. Asensio find widespread use of open research in the public sphere….

Our classification project reveals that the impact of these reports extend far beyond the research community (see Results, Fig 1). We find that half of all report downloads are used for non-academic purposes, including to improve the provision of services by medical professionals, local and regional planners, public health workers, and veterans’ advocates, to name just a few of the 64 total categories of report use.  Heavy use is made of Academies reports on STEM education and how people learn by teachers, school administrators and teachers’ coaches.  Other notable reports with their prominent users included Dying in America (chaplains), Nutrient Requirements for Beef Cattle (farmers), and Best Care at Lower Costs (clinicians and hospital administrators)….

Open access repositories require significant resources, both technological and human, to sustain and innovate. The National Academies Press, for example, has developed an engaging user interface to incentivize browsing and ease of access to NASEM publications. The PubMed Central server, developed and managed by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), requires millions of dollars per year to operate. Our research indicates there is an identifiable payoff to society for these taxpayer investments into people, technology and design to support OA publishing….

Librarians and open access advocates have long presupposed that open access to high-quality scientific knowledge could and should be viewed as a public good. Our empirical research suggests that the initial utopian aspirations regarding the public use and societal impact of OA may indeed rest on sound footing.”


Open medical textbook series offers curriculum flexibility for faculty and cost savings for students | VTx | Virginia Tech

“Renée LeClair, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine associate professor, remembered her frustration when she designed an integrated course for first-year medical students and couldn’t find a single textbook or resource to support the classroom experience she envisioned. Thanks to a VIVA Open Course Grant, University Libraries Open Education Initiative, LibreTexts, and Virginia Tech Publishing, she and her colleague Andrew Binks teamed up to author their own.

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Virginia Tech Publishing, through Virginia Tech’s Open Education Initiative housed in the University Libraries, are publishing a five-volume textbook series for pre-clinical medical students that is adaptable and freely downloadable through Pressbooks and LibreTexts. This series aligns with the United States Medical Licensing Examination and is based on faculty experience and peer review….”

Using Affordable Course Materials: Instructors’ Motivations, Approaches, and Outcomes

Abstract:  Based on 30 interviews with instructors who implemented affordable materials in their courses at a large research university, this study explored their motivations for using such resources, the processes they employed, and the extent to which the new course materials influenced teaching methods and perceived learning outcomes. Results suggest that most instructors were motivated by both student cost savings and hoped-for improvements in teaching and learning. Instructors’ choices—such as the decision to adopt an existing textbook in full or to curate a collection of disparate materials—were strongly influenced by their perception of how well available resources aligned with their own teaching and learning goals. In general, instructors felt student learning slightly improved after they put the materials into use, but the extent of improvement seemed to vary across the approaches to implementation. Librarians can leverage these results to help motivate and support the selection and implementation of affordable materials.

New program offering alternatives to textbooks saves West Virginia college students $250,000 in pilot semesters – West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

Earlier this year, West Virginia’s public higher education office launched a program, Open Learning WV, that gives faculty the opportunity to implement Open Educational Resources (OER) as alternatives to traditional textbooks for their students. When the program was piloted in the spring 2021 semester, 34 faculty members created or adopted OER, and a handful more faculty adopted OER over the summer – resulting in more than $250,000 in savings for approximately 1,200 students.

The impact of open source software and hardware on technological independence, competitiveness and innovation in the EU economy | Publications Office of the EU

This study analyses the economic impact of Open Source Software (OSS) and Hardware (OSH) on the European economy. It was commissioned by the European Commission’s DG CONNECT. It is estimated that companies located in the EU invested around €1 billion in OSS in 2018, which resulted in an impact on the European economy of between €65 and €95 billion. The analysis estimates a cost-benefit ratio of above 1:4 and predicts that an increase of 10% of OSS contributions would annually generate an additional 0.4% to 0.6% GDP as well as more than 600 additional ICT start-ups in the EU. Case studies reveal that by procuring OSS instead of proprietary software, the public sector could reduce the total cost of ownership, avoid vendor lock-in and thus increase its digital autonomy. The study also contains an analysis of existing public policy actions in Europe and around the world. The scale of Europe’s institutional capacity related to OSS, however, is disproportionately smaller than the scale of the value created by OSS. The study therefore gives a number of specific public policy recommendations aimed at achieving a digitally autonomous public sector, open R&D enabling European growth and a digitised and internally competitive industry.

Study about the impact of open source software and hardware on technological independence, competitiveness and innovation in the EU economy | Shaping Europe’s digital future

This study aims to investigate the economic impact of Open Source Software and Hardware on the EU economy.

Open Source is increasingly used in digital technologies. This required an in-depth analysis of its current role, position and potential for the European economy. Open Source Software (OSS) has become mainstream across all sectors of the software industry over the past decade. Conversely, the level of maturity of Open Source Hardware (OSH) currently appears far lower. However, the business ecosystem for OSH is developing fast. If OSH is to follow the same development as OSS, it could constitute a cornerstone of the future Internet of Things (IoT), the future of computing and the digital transformation of the European industry at the end of the digital decade.

The objective of the study was to investigate and quantify the economic impact of OSS and OSH on the European economy. The study also identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of open source in relevant ICT policies, such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), digitising European industry, the connected car, high performance computing, big data, distributed ledger technologies, and more.

Economic evidence of the footprint of open source in the EU has been collected. A list of policy options to maximize the benefit of open source supporting a competitive EU software and hardware industry, which in turn supports the twin environmental and digital transformation of the EU economy is also proposed.

There are clear signals from investors on the huge value and potential of open source. Policies to maximize the return in Europe of this value may be required. In the short-term, the findings of the study will be used as a basis for policy options in many digital areas. In the long-term, the findings can be used for a new open source policy focused on the EU economy as a whole.

The main breakthrough of the study is the identification of open source as a public good. This shows a change of paradigm from the previous irreconcilable difference between closed and open source, and points to a new era in which digital businesses are built using open source assets. This information is essential to develop policy actions in the field. The study also values the economic impact of open source commitments on the EU economy.

Do ‘Inclusive Access’ Textbook Programs Save Students Money? A New Site Urges Everyone to Read the Fine Print

““Inclusive access,” a textbook-sales model touted as a way to ensure that students without deep pockets can afford books, doesn’t always deliver on that promise, according to a leading open-access advocacy organization. So the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition and its partners have launched a website they hope will encourage a healthy skepticism, and deeper research, into the increasingly popular model.

Inclusive access programs weave the cost of digital course materials into a student’s tuition and fees, and are marketed as a heavily discounted alternative to traditional print textbooks. More than 950 college campuses have adopted related programs since 2015, when a Department of Education regulation enabled institutions to include books and supplies in their tuition or fees.

But advocates of open educational resources like Nicole Allen, Sparc’s director of open education, worry that colleges — clamoring for low-cost textbook options — are buying into the model without knowing for sure whether it’s actually saving their students money, considering the breadth of used-book and rental options available….”