SMC Partners with OpenStax to Increase Use of Free Textbooks on Campus

Santa Monica College has been selected as one of nine schools to participate in Rice University’s 2018-2019 OpenStax Institutional Partnership Program to encourage use of free, peer-reviewed textbooks on campus. OpenStax is an initiative supported by philanthropic foundations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Michelson 20MM Foundation, Google Inc., among others. Photos courtesy of OpenStax / Photo Credit: Jemel Agulto.

June 18, 2018

SANTA MONICA, CA—Santa Monica College (SMC) has been selected as one of nine schools to participate in the 2018-2019 OpenStax Institutional Partnership Program to encourage use of free, peer-reviewed textbooks on campus.

SMC was chosen after a rigorous application process that included demonstrating willingness to drive adoption of open educational resources (OER): a total of 31 institutions applied. The selected colleges and universities will receive individualized consulting from OpenStax—an initiative of Rice University and supported by philanthropic foundations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Michelson 20MM Foundation, Google Inc., among others—and join a cohort of schools advocating widespread use of OER at their schools. The 2016-2017 cohort of partner schools saw a 150 percent increase in student use of OER in the 2017-2018 academic year, saving an additional 50,000 students $4.9 million.

“Santa Monica College is committed to providing an accessible, high-quality education to those seeking better prospects for themselves and their families,” said Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, SMC Superintendent/President, “and while the cost of tuition at community colleges may not be a deterrent, the cost of textbooks can definitely be an obstacle for those struggling financially. So we are thrilled that OpenStax has provided us with an avenue to ensure that we are providing the greatest possible access to learning materials—thereby increasing the likelihood of success for our diverse student body.”

The high cost of traditional textbooks—an average of somewhere between $600 and $1,400 per student each year, according to studies by the National Association of College Stores and the College Board—not only impacts students’ ability to attend college but also effects their ability to continue and complete coursework. Open educational resources, including the free, peer-reviewed textbooks offered by OpenStax, eliminate cost barriers for students and allow unrestricted, immediate access to learning materials, increasing the likelihood that students will complete their courses successfully.

“We’re very excited to be partnering with Santa Monica College on their efforts to increase student success and faculty academic freedom through the use of OER,” said Nicole Finkbeiner, associate director of institutional relations at OpenStax at Rice University. Finkbeiner will work closely with the selected institutions to develop institution-specific strategic plans to encourage the use of OER on their campuses.

“SMC’s application for the OpenStax Institutional Partner Program stood out due to the dedication and passionate support from all areas of the college for the OER initiative,” she added.

More information on Santa Monica College’s open educational resource initiative. A complete list of OpenStax’s 2018-2019 institutional partners is available on the OpenStax website.

Santa Monica College is a California Community College accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). SMC is the leading transfer college to the University of California campuses, the University of Southern California, and Loyola Marymount University; SMC also offers career training options in over 80 fields of study, and has the most comprehensive student support networks among California community colleges with over 55 offices and programs to meet student needs and ensure academic success.

OpenStax is committed to improving access to quality learning materials and provides free, high quality, peer-reviewed textbooks and affordable educational technology designed to improve learning outcomes. For more information, visit OpenStax.org or contact Allison Howell at allison@OpenStax.org; for Santa Monica College’s OER initiative, contact Jinan Darwiche at Darwiche_Jinan@smc.edu

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