OpenStax partner schools expected to save students $9.1M on textbooks


David Ruth

Jeff Falk

Students at nine U.S. colleges and universities that partnered with Rice University-based nonprofit publisher OpenStax last summer are expected to save $9.1 million on textbooks and other course material costs in the upcoming academic year.

Photograph courtesy of Jemel Agulto, OpenStax

Photograph courtesy of Jemel Agulto, OpenStax

OpenStax is a unique publisher of peer-reviewed textbooks given to students for free and made available under an open license that gives instructors flexible use of the material. After its launch in 2012, OpenStax quickly became the largest publisher of open educational resources (OER). With more than 35 titles currently in its library, OpenStax books are used in nearly half of all colleges and universities in the U.S. and over 1,100 institutions internationally.

OpenStax assisted nine colleges and universities last year in their efforts to encourage widespread use of OER from a variety of providers. Those institutions — Arkansas State University, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, Palomar College, San Diego City College, San Jacinto College, Santa Monica College, Thomas Nelson Community College, the University of Missouri System and William Rainey Harper College — participated in the OpenStax Institutional Partner Program, which is now in its fourth year and has helped 46 institutions to date.

“The nine institutions that participated in the program for the 2018-2019 academic year had tremendous success with encouraging faculty to consider OER through their peer-to-peer teaching faculty advocacy, presentations during academic department meetings and grant programs to support faculty transitioning to OER,” said Nicole Finkbeiner, director of institutional relations at OpenStax. “Thanks to their dedication and advocacy, more than 100,000 students will have immediate and unlimited access to their course content, allowing them to be fully prepared for their courses.”

Each partner school receives individualized consulting from OpenStax and works with the other participating schools to support their goal of expanding OER throughout their institutions. Each school develops a strategic plan and works to implement that plan over the course of the year. The cohort model not only provides support but also encourages accountability.

The 2019-2020 cohort consists of 10 institutions, including Prairie View A&M University, the first historically black university to participate in the program.

“We have a diverse group of students that come from different countries, ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic groups,” said Yolander Youngblood, professor of biology at Prairie View A&M and an advocate for the university’s participation in the OpenStax program. “There are often culturally relevant situations that must be dealt with in the classroom, which creates a challenge for the instructor, It is a unique experience to show how open educational resources work under these circumstances and we are excited to be part of this year’s cohort.”

Joining Prairie View A&M in this year’s cohort are the Austin Community College District, College of DuPage, Fresno State, McHenry County College, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Millersville University, Muskegon Community College, North Carolina State University and Portland State University.


About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.