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PC Edward Glover

No textbook? No problem

With textbook prices rising at almost three times the rate of inflation from 2002 to 2013, buying them every semester costs students a fortune. Luckily, some professors have decided to teach their course using only free resources.

Transitions from high school to college can be tough in many ways, particularly if there are additional costs on top of tuition fees. Textbooks can cost upwards of 200 to 300 dollars per semester. A rough transition from being provided with free textbooks in high school.

The prices of college textbooks have risen 1,041 percent since 1977. The only way this trend will change is if professors do not require them. As long as students are required to purchase textbooks for a class, the prices will continue to climb.

If anything, having high priced textbooks could prevent students from getting an essential resource that is made necessary for them to learn. In a survey conducted using more than 2,000 students from 150 different college campuses, 65 percent of students did not buy a textbook because it was too expensive. 94 percent of those students were concerned that doing so would adversely affect their grades.

Many professors should consider teaching their classes with a more lecture-based approach with supplementation from free online videos and resources, as opposed to being majorly dependent on textbooks. It is the professor’s job to teach after all. This could benefit students in many different ways.

With UMBC being mainly a commuter school, carrying around bulky textbooks becomes very annoying for those who do not live on campus. It is very convenient when students can carry all of their textbooks on their laptop or access them through the library computers.

There are very little differences in content when using online textbooks and physical copies, but the switch to using online textbooks has its own perks. In fact, the online textbooks are easier to navigate through. You can also highlight and make notes in the text. Although, staring at a bright screen for extended periods of time could be a limitation.

Having taken classes that were lecture-based, using online resources did not affect my studying habits. I preferred it because I was also able to get more interaction time with my professors. It even gave me an incentive to attend office hours.

There are also great environmental benefits that can come from going textbook-less. Think about how much paper and ink is used when producing a textbook. Textbooks are constantly being updated by publishers, pushing more and more into the market along with the older ones that are already being used. This can be easily avoided by switching to online textbooks, which are cheaper to produce and update. There is no reason to publish a whole new textbook edition for very minor changes and additions.

There is a clear advantage to using free, online textbooks and resources to supplement teaching. While a handful of professors have realized this, students will not be able to reap the benefits until more professors join the movement.