Thursday, August 23, 2012

Senate passes bills to promote development of digital open source textbooks


Two Senate bills providing for the development of low-cost digital textbooks for 50 lower division courses across the state’s public postsecondary education segments have been passed by the California Senate and the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Senate Bills 1052 and 1053 were introduced by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Senator Elaine Alquist and will only become operative if significant funding is provided, either through the Budget Act or through federal or private funds.
Passing the Senate on August 20, SB 1052 establishes the California Open Education Resources Council composed of three faculty members each from the University of California (UC), the California State University (CSU), and the California Community Colleges (CCC).
This council will develop a list of 50 lower division courses for which digital open source textbooks can be acquired, promote production and access of these materials, solicit student advice, and apply for funds to produce the 50 open source textbooks.
According to an analysis by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, SB 1052 will cost approximately $25 million to support developing the Council in fulfilling its responsibilities and in developing the 50 open source textbooks.
The legislation will cause revenue loss to campus bookstores, according to the analysis. However, a significant reduction in textbook costs could also help make college more affordable so that students can take a greater unit load per semester and reduce the time necessary to complete their education.
Also passing the Senate on August 20, SB 1053 requires the CSU, in coordination with the UC and the CCC, to establish the California Digital Open Source Library (CDOSL) to house digital open source textbooks.
The bill also states that the UC, CSU, and CCC support faculty in choosing lower cost and more flexible textbook alternatives.
The CSU estimates annual costs of around $1.2 million to develop and operate the CDOSL, but this cost will likely diminish after about five years and should be absorbable, according a committee analysis.

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