No annual report


Proposal ID 2015-097
Submitted April 22, 2015
Owner jkjohnson1996
Department University Libraries
Category Frontier Technology
Funding Status Pending
Metric Score None


  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Lizabeth A. Wilson
  • Vice Provost for Digital Initiatives and Dean of University Libraries
  • 206-543-1763
  • 482 Allen Library, Box 352900
  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Lizabeth A. Wilson
  • Vice Provost for Digital Initiatives and Dean of University Libraries
  • 205-543-1763
  • 420 Allen Library, Box 352900
  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Lizabeth A. Wilson
  • Vice Provost of Digital Initiatives, Dean of University Libraries
  • 206-543-1763
  • 482 Allen Library, Box 352900



According to the College Board, the average undergraduate student should budget between $1,200 and $1,300 for textbooks and supplies each year. Overall, textbook prices have gone up 82% in the last decade – 3 times the rate of inflation. They’re the single largest out-of-pocket expense for students and families every year.

Open textbooks can solve that problem. Giving interested faculty the training and resources they need to replace their traditional textbook with an open textbook would save students thousands of dollars every year while still delivering the educational content they need to succeed.

Category Justification

For decades, traditional publishers used the same method to publish and share information. With the invention of the Internet, we learned that we could share information at little-to-no-cost.

Open textbooks are a relatively modern development. They leverage technology to lower costs and make content more widely accessible. While some schools like MIT and Harvard have been using open licenses for years, schools like University of Connecticut and University of California system are just starting to get into the game.

Furthermore, the evolution of technology and the internet since the creation of open textbooks, continues to change how these texts are used. For instance, multi-media platforms like YouTube, Prezi, and Itunes University can now be incorporated directly into these texts.

Open textbook pilot programs can serve as a testing ground for student and faculty application. We’re just starting to explore the potential of open textbooks to revolutionize classroom learning, and for these reasons, open textbooks can be considered a type of frontier technology.


Modern technology gives us the ability to deliver information widely, at little-to-no cost, but publishing companies haven’t kept up. Instead of recognizing the burden of textbook prices on students, publishers have increased prices every year – pushing the prices of new, introductory textbooks into the $150-$250 range.

Open textbooks are faculty-written and peer-reviewed, just like traditional textbooks – except that they’re published under an open license. That means they are available for free online, they’re affordable in print ($10-$40) and they offer a host of benefits over traditional print textbooks:

- Increased accessibility
- Significantly lower cost to students
- Ability to customize and adapt learning materials
- Allow for greater interaction with text for both students and faculty

The challenge is that it many faculty don't know about open textbooks, and if they do, they don't know how to use them. This proposal creates a program that gives faculty the training and the resources they need to switch.


There are over 175 open textbooks available on the Open Textbook Library at University of Minnesota – these peer-reviewed, open textbooks could be used to replace traditional textbooks in UW classrooms as early as next semester. As highlighted in U.S. PIRG’s most recent report, if every student at UW was assigned just one open textbook each year, it would save university students almost $4 MILLION annually.

Our proposal creates an opt-in program to provide the training and resources faculty need to replace the traditional textbook they use to teach with an open textbook alternative. The program will investigate potential for broader open textbook use on campus by looking at student savings generated, faculty satisfaction, and impact on students.

There are three main pieces to the proposal:

1. Training – the university would provide interested/applicable faculty members and staff with the knowledge necessary to effectively use open textbooks, and provide opportunities for faculty to engage with open textbook experts about:
a. Where to find open textbooks and other open resources
b. How to explore open textbooks for possible adoption in their classes
c. Ways to utilize all the benefits of open textbooks, incl. customizing

2. Faculty Grants – it does take time and effort for faculty to transition to new course materials, and this proposal would create a set of small grants to incentivize faculty to switch to an open textbook in their class.

3. Administration/Staff support – in order to create a sustainable program and to give faculty the level of support they need during their first semesters and years teaching with open textbooks, this proposal provides staff support from the university to assist faculty on a one-on-one basis.

Benefits to Students and the University

The benefits of creating an open textbook program are numerous, yet two standout: (1) open textbook adoption effectively reduces student costs, (2) they encourage greater faculty interaction with the text.

The results of open textbook pilot programs at major universities have demonstrated the massive savings that open textbooks offer. In our report, The Billion Dollar Solution, we tracked the student savings from five university pilot programs. Our findings suggest that these programs are responsible for over $3.5 million in student savings. Kansas State University’s pilot program, impacting 8,058 students, saved students $1,111,527; and Tacoma Community College also saved an enrolled 10,130 students over $1.1 million.

The benefits of open textbooks go far beyond their price. This Creative Commons license used for open textbooks gives professors the opportunity to customize the materials to better match their course, and make edits they feel are necessary. Such customization allows professors to directly implement other multimedia resources directly into the text. Research from the Tidewater Community College Z-Degree program shows that greater teacher-text interaction correlates with better student retention and performance.

Open textbook programs benefit universities by offering the ability to invest with a very high rate of return. University pilot programs prove that a small investment can go a very long way. Our research shows that for every dollar invested in open textbook initiatives, students receive on average, $10.40 in savings.

Finally, institutions that are piloting open textbook adoption lauded often in local papers and even national news outlets. Projects at Rice University and the University of Minnesota were mentioned in the New York Times, and UMass Amherst's Open Education Initiative has been celebrated in Massachusetts papers over a dozen times in the past few years, for example. University of Washington would establish itself as a leader in open learning through this proposal.

Departmental Endorsements

Faculty Senate Resolution:

WHEREAS, the escalating cost of conventionally produced and distributed textbooks well outpaces
inflation and shows every sign of continuing to do so; and
WHEREAS, students face increased financial stress from similarly escalating tuition rates, transportation
costs, and housing expenses; and
WHEREAS, the University Book Store textbook buyback program can dramatically reduce the cost of
conventional textbooks for students when textbooks continue to be used across quarters, but it is heavily
impacted when faculty members adopt the newest editions of textbooks as soon as they are released;
WHEREAS, new models are emerging that have the potential to restructure the textbook industry and
lead to systematically increased affordability; and
WHEREAS, the Faculty Senate commends UW faculty and the University Book Store for their work to
select and deliver textbooks at an affordable price; and
WHEREAS, the Faculty Senate commends the University Book Store for reducing the net cost of
educational materials through the ten percent rebate program; therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, that the Faculty Senate encourages UW faculty to use earlier editions of textbooks
and to only adopt new editions in the case of actual pedagogical improvement rather than solely aesthetic
rearrangement; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Faculty Senate encourages UW faculty to take a leadership role in
embracing more affordable models for the textbook industry; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the UW Book Store CEO
Bryan Pearce, Vice President and Vice Provost for Student Life Eric Godfrey, and the UW Book Store
Board of Trustees.
Submitted by:
Tim Mensing, ASUW President
February 22, 2010

Approved by:
Senate Executive Committee
February 22, 2010

Approved by:
Faculty Senate
March 11, 2010

Additional Faculty Endorsements:

"University Book Store is very sympathetic to the concerns of students regarding textbook pricing and we work hard to do what we can to reduce this expense. As an example, all information about course materials is posted on our website as soon as it is received. We offer as many options as we can: new, used, rental, digital, and we have a price comparison tool on our website so students can easily shop around the web for the textbook option that best meets their needs. We support initiatives that look at the costs for higher education overall and there are many issues to be addressed, the price of course materials only being a part. As we’ve always done and will continue to do, we work with professors to help find the course materials they need and want for classes at the lowest possible price with the highest number of options available for students. Our mission for 115 years has been to serve the students, faculty and staff of the University of Washington and we will continue to do so to support their educational goals."
-Louise W. Little, Chief Executive Officer, University Bookstore

Faculty have also signed this statement of support:
As faculty members, we affirm that it is our prerogative and responsibility to select course materials that are pedagogically most appropriate for our classes. We also affirm that it is consistent with this principle to seek affordable and accessible course materials for our classes whenever possible. This includes "open textbooks," which are offered online to students at no cost.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, join more than 3,000 faculty to declare our intent to:

Seek and consider open textbooks and other open educational resources when choosing course materials.
Give preference to a low or no cost educational resource such as an open textbook over an expensive, traditional textbook if it best fits the needs of a class.
Encourage institutions to develop support for the use of open textbooks and other open educational resources.

Signed by: Dr. Apurva Jain, Dr. Dave Bacon, Dr. Dan Grossman, Dr. Frank Hodge, Dr. Thomas Gilbert, Dr. Mary Gugerty, Dr. Haideh Salehi-Esfahani, Dr. Adam Moore, Dr. Robert Bowen, Dr. Richard Hartman, Dr. Stephan Siegel

Installation Timeline

Summer 2015 - Library Staff engages with open textbook experts to begin crafting program.
Early Fall 2015 - UW hosts a training and workshop for faculty interested in applying for grants, and for other interested faculty.
Late Fall 2015 - First round of grants awarded for faculty switching their courses during the spring semester.
Early Spring 2016- UW hosts a training and workshop for faculty interested in applying for grants, and for other interested faculty.
Late Spring 2016 - Second round of grants awarded for faculty switching their courses during the summer or fall semester.
Spring Semester End 2016 - Faculty grantees report back on their semester experience.
Summer Semester End 2016 - Faculty grantees report back on their semester experience.
Fall Semester End 2016 - Faculty grantees report back on their semester experience.

Resources Provided by Department

The university librarians are available as a resource.

Access Restrictions (if any)

There are no access restrictions to this proposal because open source textbooks are available online. With an internet connection, students, faculty, administration and the general public can easily access all open source textbooks currently available.

Student Endorsements

The Associated Students of the University of Washington:

THAT, the ASUW supports the use of open textbooks provided that quality of instruction would not be compromised; and

THAT, the ASUW encourages faculty to consider open textbooks and other low-cost course materials when selecting textbooks; and

THAT, the ASUW Student Senate encourages the University of Washington to offer support to faculty to consider and adopt open textbooks, when academically appropriate; and

THAT, the ASUW calls on the Washington state legislature and Washington representatives in Congress to support open textbooks as a solution to high textbook costs; and

THAT, this resolution shall be expeditiously forwarded to ASUW President Michael Kutz, UW President Michael Young, Ed Taylor, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Craig Allen, Chair of the Faculty Council on Teaching & Learning, Faculty Senate Chair Jack Lee, U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Washington State Senators Barbara Bailey, and Washington State House Representatives Larry Seaquist.

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate:

THAT the GPSS supports the use of open textbooks, provided that quality of instruction is not
compromised; and

THAT the GPSS encourages faculty to consider open textbooks and other low- or no-cost course
materials when selecting textbooks; and

THAT the GPSS encourages the University of Washington to offer support to faculty to consider
and adopt open textbooks; and

THAT the GPSS shall create an award to recognize faculty that go above and beyond in their
efforts to save students money; and

THAT the award shall be given annually by the GPSS; and

THAT the GPSS Secretary shall be responsible for coordinating the nominating process and
naming of such award; and

THAT the GPSS calls on the Washington State legislature and Washington State representatives
in Congress to support open textbooks as a solution to high textbook costs; and

THAT this resolution shall be expeditiously forwarded to GPSS President Alice Popejoy, ASUW
President Christina Xiao, UW President, Faculty Senate Chair Kate O’Neill, Dean and Vice
Provost of the Graduate School David Eaton, and Chair of the Faculty Council on Teaching &
Learning Jeffrey Wilkes.

Other Student Endorsements:

"I strongly support the implementation of a pilot program to teach and encourage instructors to consider open-source textbooks for their classes. As a student, I constantly struggle to afford textbooks. Open-source textbooks would save students like me thousands of dollars over the course of their education, and teachers can collect and tailor open-source textbooks to perfectly suit their curriculum, and share their innovations with other educators. We need the resources to show instructors at UW that there is an alternative to limiting and costly books."
-Juliya Ziskina, 2L at UW School of Law

"I am strongly in support of an open access textbook pilot program at UW. Open access makes textbooks cheaper and more convenient. Having course materials on a laptop or tablet device is much easier than hauling around 3 or 4 heavy textbooks."
-Hailey Badger, ASUW Director of University Affairs

"I don't buy some of my assigned textbooks because they're so expensive--to the detriment of my grades."

"As students at UW we're required to buy expensive textbooks each quarter. When you buy multiple textbooks per quarter the cost is extreme and a cheaper alternative is essential."

"I support open textbooks because my education shouldn't be cost prohibitive."

"Textbooks, I hate buying them because they are way more expensive than they should be. Open source textbooks are an effective alternative."
- Menno

"In addition to paying out of state tuition, textbooks are extravagantly priced."


Group Funded Item Unit price Quantity Subtotal

Open Textbook Network participation, including on-campus workshops, training for UW staff member, and impact measurement

$5,000.00 1 $5,000.00

The Library will work with the Open Textbook Network to engage and educate faculty.

The Open Textbook Network is a consortium of institutions working to help faculty overcome barriers to adoption of open textbooks, increase institutional capacity to support faculty adoption and use of open textbooks, and collaboratively develop new understandings and best practices of open textbook adoption and use.

The Open Textbook Network will:

1. Jump-start the program - hold a workshop for interested faculty members to educate them and walk through the basics.
2. Make it sustainable - work individually with staff, librarians, leadership, committees, student groups, instructional designers or others to build skills and affinity for the concept. Additionally, the Network will invite (and pay for) one person to attend a summer institute held at the Center for Open Education at the University of Minnesota for training to become a skilled open textbook workshop facilitator.
3. Provide evidence of impact - help you measure open textbook adoptions, the resulting student savings, and student impact.


While it is important to provide faculty incentive to adopt open textbooks, it is just as critical to inform and train them how to effectively use and find open textbooks for their courses. Switching from a traditional textbook to an open textbook does require work, and there is a minor learning curve in the process. Providing training on an ongoing basis is essential to the success of any open textbook program, as previous open textbook pilots have revealed.

The Open Textbook Network works with more than a dozen institutions to educate faculty and help drive open textbook adoption on campus. They worked with faculty around the country to develop and drive open textbook adoption, and their training is highly regarded.

Faculty Grants to write open textbook reviews

$200.00 25 $5,000.00

As traditional publishers do, this proposal suggests offering small, one-time grants to faculty to read an open textbook, write a review, and publish it through the Open Textbook Library. These grants can be curated by the Open Textbook Network, will be opt-in for any faculty member interested, and can be done in association with the Network's introductory training workshop.


Open textbooks are an effective, powerful alternative to the traditional textbook. However, as an emerging technology, there is room to improve the depth and accessibility of peer-to-peer recommendations for available books. While there are many factors that go into a faculty member's textbook choice, peer reviews are certainly a factor, which is why it's so important to develop new faculty reviews for available books.

Faculty Grants to transition classrooms from traditinal books to open textbooks

$1,000.00 40 $40,000.00

That's why this proposal creates an opt-in grant program for faculty, to incentivize their switching one of their classes from a traditional textbook to an open textbook. The grants would be approximately $1000 per course, and would ideally prioritize classes with a maximum student impact.

This model follows a similar pilot program at the University of Massachusetts, which has awarded 10 grants each year for 4 years, and has saved students almost $1.5 million dollars to date, a 39x return on investment.


Selecting a textbook can be a complicated process for faculty. It takes even more work to develop, curate, and choose the supplementary learning materials to go along with that textbook. While open textbooks have the potential to save students hundreds of dollars every year and improve student success, switching does require a time investment on the part of faculty.

Open Textbook Project Coordinator Staff Time

$30,000.00 1 $30,000.00

A dedicated staff person, or a percentage of time for an existing staff person, to oversee the project and coordinate the training, grants, and reporting aspects of the program.


Having a point person to oversee and coordinate the training plan, grant distribution, professional development, and reporting is essential. Without it, the program will likely lack direction, vision, and on-campus leadership, significantly reducing effectiveness.

Open Textbook Program Additional Staff Time

$15,000.00 1 $15,000.00

The line item provides funding for any additional staff time needed to coordinate aspects of the proposal, working directly with faculty on campus, and handling administrative aspects of the project.


Coordinating the whole program can be a significant time burden. At campuses like UMass Amherst, which has launched it's own open textbook pilot program, there are multiple staff persons engaged in the project - especially to handle the administrative aspects of such a program

Total requested: $95,000.00


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