More Success on PSU’s Textbook Affordability Initiative


PSU is making progress on our work on textbook affordability– one of a number of reTHINK PSU initiatives to reduce costs to students. My previous blogs on this topic provide context of how this work makes a huge difference in affordability and the quality of materials available to students.

Our work on textbook affordability began with Provost Challenge project #111. It was our first coordinated effort to develop publishing support services for the creation of open textbooks. Support for faculty included the creation of book cover templates; ISBN registration services; and established print-on-demand services with a third-party vendor – Lulu.

We tested these approaches on five courses at PSU. Through the urging and leadership of our Library Dean, Marilyn Moody, and in collaboration with the Faculty Senate and ASPSU, we followed this work with the creation of a Task Force on Textbooks and Course Materials: “Reducing Student Costs 2014” to determine how PSU could take to scale the lowering of course material costs.

The 13 member Task Force produced a comprehensive report, Textbooks and Course Materials: Reducing Student Costs. The Task Force identified five overarching themes:

  • Theme 1: Expand on the initial investment of the Task Force
  • Theme 2: Pursue collaboration among all stakeholders
  • Theme 3: Develop and incentivize use of open education resources (OERs)
  • Theme 4: Investigate other cost-reduction initiatives
  • Theme 5: Address challenges of copyright and intellectual property

The Task Force Report was followed a few months later with a detailed Implementation Plan – what needs to be done, by whom, and by when. I want to highlight two actions from the implementation plan.

Copyright. The Task Force Report highlighted the need for PSU to address issues associated with copyright ownership. Vice President for Research and Strategic Partnerships, Jon Fink, and I charged a Copyright Task Force to identify existing resources, policies, and practices within the University; consider areas of risk within the community; and make recommendations to move the University forward in a dynamic technological, academic, and legal environment. In accomplishing its work, the task force will balance competing and complementary values that include respect for laws and intellectual property; enhance the desire to foster scholarly creativity; advance excellence in teaching; and improve student learning in an affordable educational environment.

Open Textbooks. PSU is in the process of joining the Open Textbook Network and will be hosting an on-campus workshop sponsored by the Network this fall. One goal of the workshop will be to help interested departments and faculty members identify relevant open textbooks from the Open Textbook Library that might be adopted for use by PSU courses.

There are many opportunities for faculty and students to help with the task force recommendations and the implementation plan. I urge faculty to adopt suggested strategies for reducing the cost of course materials for our students and help make college more affordable. Do not hesitate to comment on this blog or to share ideas/questions with Marilyn Moody or me.


One thought on “More Success on PSU’s Textbook Affordability Initiative

  1. It is a pleasure to work at a university that will take on, and take head-on, the cost of educational materials as a component of increasing costs. Thanks to the team!


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