Use of Free Textbooks Is Rising, but Barriers Remain

A growing number of professors are replacing the traditional textbook with an openly licensed one, according to a survey released on Tuesday. But their overall numbers remain small — and widespread adoption of the practice could remain out of reach unless key barriers are overcome.

"Opening the Textbook: Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2017," surveyed 2,700 full- and part-time faculty members to measure, among other things, their use of open educational resources, commonly called OER. It is the third such survey produced by the Babson Survey Research Group in recent years.

Over that time the share of faculty members adopting open-licensed textbooks rose from 5 percent in 2015 to 9 percent today, with a higher rate of use in large introductory-level classes. Familiarity with openly licensed materials is also growing: About 30 percent of respondents said they were aware or very aware of open educational resources. And nearly 90 percent of faculty members said that cost to the student was a key factor in how they select required course material.

Read more at The Chronicle of Higher Education: