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Monday, September 16, 2019

Opinion

There’s a new bookstore on campus, but other options are available


Textbook prices are rising, so students should opt for other options.| Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Textbook prices are rising, so students should be aware of their options. | File art/The Cougar

Textbooks are expensive. Too expensive. With the new bookstore opening at UH, this could be a chance for lower textbook pricing if UH chooses to take it. 

Obviously, textbooks are an essential part of education, as students differ in their approach to learning the material. So, the more methods that the same material is taught with, the better the students will understand it. Textbooks should still be included as part of the curriculum of courses, as they provide an avenue to understand topics not understood and solidify topics learned.

But textbooks could be at a lower price. If the new textbook store does not have improved options than the last, then professors and students should use open-source textbooks. Open-source texts are free to all, with no sacrifice to the quality of material presented. One example of such projects is the NOBA project.

The NOBA project is an online, free interactive textbook. For now, however, it only focuses on psychology courses, from introduction to psychology to more advanced topics such as developmental psychology.

The goals of the project, which it successfully achieves, is to provide a high-quality education to everyone by offering a free textbook. Each textbook on their website is composed of modules written by a collection of experts in the field of psychology. The experts range from professors from prestigious universities to leaders in psychology research. Also, there are quizzes and practice questions integrated within the textbooks.

The NOBA project focuses on one subject, but there are many other projects with similar goals in mind regarding textbooks. For instance, another resource, started by Dan Colman, the director of Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program, is the open culture site. They offer a range of textbooks and courses in a variety of topics.

Although these sites are written by professionals and therefore not lower quality than other highly-esteemed textbooks, they must be integrated into professors’ curriculum to attain their goals.

Although not free, Cengage recently launched Cengage Unlimited, which is a subscription-based platform that gives students access to a digital library of textbooks. The model is like what Netflix does for television shows. 

The prescription includes more than 22,000 Cengage textbooks at a cost of $119 per semester or $180 a year. But, this would require UH professors to coordinate to choose this publisher — an unlikely but still viable option.

A well-known option is to buy used textbooks, but this also becomes a hurdle when the professor requires an access code. Professors can avert from requiring these codes while offering the same quizzes or homework assignments by using Blackboard or CASA.

Professors should not require the latest version of the most expensive textbook to get their students to learn and master the material. There are numerous other, more affordable, options. 

Opinion Editor Maryam Baldawi is a biology junior and can be reached at [email protected]

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