As a new member of the OpenStax initiative, the university plans to expand its use of open-access textbooks and course materials.
From the proliferation of distance learning options to a wealth of community collaborations, Texas Tech University has worked for decades to make information and new knowledge more widely accessible. Now, the university is taking yet another step forward in that journey.
Texas Tech is one of a dozen institutions joining the 2021-22 Institutional Partner cohort of OpenStax, Rice University's educational technology initiative. OpenStax produces open educational resources in the form of textbooks and ancillary materials, as well as nonprofit technologies.
The OpenStax program has helped more than 65 colleges and universities expand the use of open educational resources on their campuses, saving students money and putting more flexible course materials into the hands of educators and learners.
“Texas Tech is committed to helping students address issues of textbook affordability,” said Ryan Litsey, interim assistant dean and associate librarian for Texas Tech University Libraries. “Through our participation in the OpenStax institutional partner program, in partnership with eLearning & Academic Partnerships, the library hopes to gain a better understanding on how to promote, adopt and create open educational resources that can make the cost of a college education more affordable.”
On average, the 2020-21 cohort members increased OpenStax textbook use on their campus by 250%. For instance, the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley saw a dramatic increase in the number of faculty assigning OpenStax textbooks and open educational resources, which saved more than $400,000 for roughly 1,000 students.
“Nationwide, with the rising cost of education and the looming student debt crisis, it is imperative that universities look for ways to promote access to education at a manageable cost for our students and families,” said Justin Louder, associate vice provost for eLearning & Academic Partnerships. “By partnering with OpenStax, we hope to encourage faculty to look for ways to incorporate low- to no-cost educational resources into their classes.”
In addition to Texas Tech, other schools in this year's program include the University of Houston-Downtown, Michigan State University, Florida State University, the College of Southern Nevada; City College of San Francisco; the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System; Orange Coast College; Southern University; and the University of Houston-Victoria.