Virginia Tech University Libraries crowdfunding for free materials and cheaper textbooks

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Many people can likely remember how expensive text books are in college, but Virginia Tech is trying to solve that.

The University Libraries is running a crowdfunding campaign looking for $10,000.

The money would go toward giving Open Education Faculty Initiative Grants to teachers so they can create and more openly licensed materials, or open education resources (OER). OER include no-cost, editable alternatives to traditional textbooks and homework software access codes.

These, potentially, free options could replace the expensive textbooks that can keep students from taking certain classes.

Virginia Tech Open Education, Copyright, and Scholarly Communication Librarian Anita Walz explained, “Students are expected to pay around $1,200 a year, they're expected to budget that. What they actually spend per semester is around $350. They're a lot of reasons for that, a lot of students are going without.

She also said, “As our campus becomes more diverse, we expect that there will be students from very diverse backgrounds, including socioeconomic backgrounds and we want to be sure we’re supporting those students, as well as everyone else so that those students have a chance to be successful academically rather than being priced out of being able to afford textbooks.

Walz said some instructors are already taking advantage of the grant money this program can provide. But the hope is more will take part, if the crowdfunding campaign can raise enough money.

She explained, “We don’t have a lot of faculty that are involved in this, but the faculty who are involved in this have had a very significant impact. They have large enrollment courses.”

For example, the Foundations of Business course, which is the intro level management course, has more than 700 students registered for the Fall semester. Those students save around $200 each, according to Walz because of the program.

The two intro level Biology courses both use Open Education textbooks. There are more than 6,000 students in those course benefiting from it every semester.

Walz also said this type of program can be used across the country to help students at more colleges and universities than just Virginia Tech.

To see the crowdfunding campaign link, which concludes on May 10, 2018 at 8:00 a.m., and learn more or contribute, click here.

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