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The Textbook-Free Path: Where Does It Lead?

by Dian Schaffhauser

Campus Technology

Article excerpt

How to Go Textbook Free

The University of Maryland University College is the largest institution in the country to go “commando” on textbooks. As of this academic year undergraduates don’t have to lug them around or spend a dime on them — and the benefits don’t end there.

Our take

No Textbooks, Fewer Full-Time Instructors, Shorter Semesters: What Next?

The promise of OER is about a lot more than simply transitioning from print to digital textbooks–although that can certainly represent benefits, most notably financial benefits, for both students and school systems. The transition process, though, can be heightened by a look at curriculum as well as delivery models as the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) has discovered. Should you be thinking about your structure and traditional educational models differently?

UMUC is not only going textbook free; it’s also exploring things like shortening the traditional 16-week semester to 8 weeks and staffing based on fewer full-time faculty (whose time is primarily spent preparing and evaluating curriculum) and more adjuncts (who deliver the content). These are models that are helping to drive down costs, boost student satisfaction and, hopefully, improve learning outcomes. The significant political and technological impacts facing education today make this an important time to think about what changes could have positive impacts for your students.