SACRAMENTO – Only a signature away, Governor Jerry Brown will have an opportunity to lower the cost of college textbooks by creating the nation’s first free open source digital library for college students and faculty.

Friday, the California State Senate unanimously passed the first of its kind open educational resource digital library, or (OER), offering students free access to textbooks in the most commonly taken lower-division courses at public postsecondary institutions.

“At a time when the cost of attending California’s public colleges and universities is skyrocketing, relief is only a signature away as both SB 1052 and 1053 await Governor Jerry Brown’s signature,” said 20 Million Minds Foundation President Dean Florez. The foundation has been supportive of policy measures to create quality open source textbooks for college students throughout the nation. “This is the first time government has come in with substantial dollars that match philanthropic efforts to create a library where students can access free textbooks and faculty can utilize their skills to remix, revise and repurpose these textbooks for their students.”

Introduced by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) in February, SB 1052 provides for the selection, development and administration of the free open digital textbooks for the most popular lower-division courses overseen by the establishment of the “California Open Education Resources Council” (COERC). COERC, established by the legislation, will be comprised of faculty members from the University of California, California State University and Community Colleges to determine which courses merit inclusion. Its companion bill, SB 1053, creates the California Open Source Digital Library to house the open source textbooks and courseware.

The legislation creates a competitive “Request for Proposals” (RFP) process inviting faculty, publishers, and others to develop high quality digital open source textbooks and related courseware. The materials would be placed under a “Creative Commons” licensing structure that would not only allow students and faculty free access, but would also allow instructors to create customized materials from the textbooks and other courseware. To ensure the materials meet the rigorous standards of college core curricula, all material would be reviewed and approved by subject matter experts.

15 replies on “California Passes Nation’s First Open Source Textbook Legislation”

  1. Not sure why my comment keeps getting deleted. California could save so much money by simply using the 80+ open textbooks that have been published by Flat World and others.

  2. I don’t believe so, Shawn. It seems unlikely that they would ever require professors to use the state-funded books. But for most of the high enrollment courses, good open textbooks are already available. The barrier is that few instructors know/care enough to use or adapt an existing open book.

  3. I’m sure it will be a while before college professors start using open textbooks. Between the kickbacks and/or royalties they get by using the expensive textbooks, they have little incentive to change.

  4. Maybe because you’re spamming the board (and every other board) with adverts for FWK. Also, using their books won’t save California money, it might save students money.

  5. Great point. So much good being done in this field between Washington State as well as California with MERLOT, as well as Rice with Connexions.

  6. Thank you for being part of the solution John! Please keep spreading the word about open textbooks.

  7. No they shouldn’t.

    Wait. I mean, yes they should, but in this case they’re fine.

    The bill specifies that the created textbooks will have source code available and licensed under Creative Commons.

  8. The bill specifies that the books be available under a Creative Commons license. That may make some or all of FWK’s books ineligible. I checked the website, but couldn’t find licensing information.

  9. If the California program decides to adopt and adapt many of these textbooks, it should significantly reduce the cost of the program. Since the Washington books are licensed CC-BY (allowing remixes and commercial use), the option is certainly open to them.

  10. Oops. I may have spoke too soon. Looks like they have lots of educational material available, but no actual books. The material could certainly be of assistance in putting a book together though.

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