2-Year Study Reveals Factors that Determine Whether Open Textbooks Will Save Institutions Money

Type: Evidence | Hypothesis: OER saves money | Polarity: | Sector: | Country:

Evidence for Open Textbooks saving students money is plentiful. However, as research by Wiley & Levi Hilton III (2012) reveals, whether institutions make cost savings by using OER, such as open textbooks, is strongly dependent on specific factors. These factors include the time and methods used by educators to modify materials to suit their specific purposes.

The data and text below (Wiley & Levi Hilton III, 2012) show that a vast majority of pilots of open textbooks during the first year of the study did not result in cost savings.

Table showing estimated costs for open and traditional textbooks for several teachers. Costs for open textbooks are often higher.

From their analysis of the data above (taken during the first year of their study) the authors conclude that:

“…the easiest way to spend more money on open textbooks than on traditional textbooks is to simultaneously

  • fail to exercise any of the adaptation/revision rights provided by open textbooks, adopting longer books that contain unnecessary information;
  • print these longer books on loose-leaf paper and put them in three-ring binders;
  • disaggregate these longer books into multiple smaller books; and
  • print small numbers of the books (100–200 copies).”

Based on these findings, in the remainder of their paper, Wiley and Levi Hilton III develop and test a method which consistently results in substantial savings through the use of open textbooks when compared with traditional textbooks.

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