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Open Source Textbooks Contribute to College Affordability

Keeping college education affordable is a guiding principle at Dalton State, and one key way faculty members contribute is by collaborating to create open educational resources for their students allowing them to avoid buying costly textbooks for some classes.

So far, 10 teams of Dalton State faculty and staff members have sought Affordable Learning Georgia grants to develop course materials, the second most such projects in the University System of Georgia. They have received more than $122 thousand in ALG grant funding to develop materials; cost savings to students over a three-year period could top $1 million.

“Our faculty understand how important our affordability is to our students and their families,” said Dr. Pat Chute, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Dalton State. “I’m proud of them for actively seeking ways to bring down the cost of higher education.”

The purchase of commercial textbooks can add hundreds of dollars to a student’s college bill each semester, Chute said.

“By adopting open source material already available or creating their own textbooks, lab manuals, or ancillary classroom materials and making them accessible throughout the state, Dalton State faculty are part of the solution of bringing costs down,” she said.

Dr. Natalie Trice reported that her study abroad class in Spain last summer appreciated not only the fact that their electronic open source textbook was free (the traditional textbook she’d used previously retailed for $188), but they were also happy not to have to lug a heavy book around Europe.

Dr. Jenny Crisp reported that the online textbook she helped author, The Roadrunner’s Guide to English, has been well received by students.

Dr. Tom Gozalez estimates that more than $60,000 has already been saved by math students who used Dalton State’s free online calculus book rather than the traditional text that cost between $250 (used) and $329 (new).

“All bachelor of science students for a STEM major require calculus I; we had 246 students last fall.” The savings, he said, demonstrated “how much our faculty cares for our students and do what’s right for our students.”

“A central aspect of our mission is to provide access to high quality college education to this region and beyond,” said Dr. Margaret Venable, president. “For our students, being affordable is one of the most important ways we provide access to a college degree. Of course low cost is not the same thing as cheap. Dalton State offers both quality AND affordability, and that is what makes us increasingly the first choice college for students in northwest Georgia.”

Among the faculty members awarded grants to develop open resource materials are Molly Zhou, Marina Smitherman, Chuck Fink, David DesRochers, Susan Burran, Natalie Johnson, Hassan El-Najjar, Jenny Crisp, Lydia Postell, Barbara Tucker, Alicia Briganti, Jonathan Gulledge, Ken Ellinger, Matt Hipps, Tom Gonzalez, Mike Hilgemann, Jason Schmurr, and the late Kris Barton. Dalton State staff members assisting with the development of instructional materials are Melissa Whitesell and David Brown.