Students, like everyone else, love to save money. They are vocal about their support for cheaper college tuition, textbooks and course materials. Who can argue with them on that? With textbooks and materials, faculty have a chance to really help.
While not all texts are the same, many survey course textbooks are very similar – even down to covering exact topics and in the same order. In that way, they are somewhat interchangeable. While one can abandon them altogether and develop their courses with other materials, textbooks provide an immediate resource and structure that are familiar to students. As such, I took a look at Openstax and some others, like Boundless, for our introductory sociology courses.
After a semester and a half of using it in all SOC101 courses, we feel the Openstax text is very suitable, and, considering the costs savings, we figure it has saved students about $150,000.
Our text has a solid table of contents and order. It is a color hardback text, indistinguishable from many others. At $30 new, it’s a steal. An enhanced pdf version is available for free, all as part of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant in conjunction with Rice University. There are a wide array of subjects for survey level courses with Openstax. They are worth of look when you consider a text change for your course.
The sociology text is somewhat sparer in detail when compared to some others, but, in the end, it is very easy to supplement materials while also allowing for greater customization. There are a variety of instructional resources available for all Openstax texts, including an online pilot program called Content Coach. We are looking into that over the summer. Their test bank, we’ve found, also works well with Moodle.
Like any text or course material, it’s really about what you do with it. You can do a lot with Openstax, including pushing down the costs of college.