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University of California Wins $4.9 Million to Develop Free Textbooks

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The U.S. Department of Education announced $4.9 million grant to the University of California to develop free and open textbooks in targeted subjects.

Aimed to curb the rising cost of textbooks, the university will lead the pilot program heading consortium of 12 campuses to develop free textbooks on career-technical education (CTE) fields and high enrollment subjects like chemistry.

The grant, a part of Congress funded Open Textbooks Pilot Program, will majorly focus on developing free technical textbooks which are often expensive as they require frequent updates with rapidly changing technology.

“The cost of college textbooks has almost doubled in the past 10 years,” Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos said. “This program is an important step toward reducing barriers, expanding access and increasing choice for students who want to attend college or learn a trade. I commend Senators Durbin, King, and Smith, as well as Representatives Polis and Sinema for their commitment to getting this pilot program passed through Congress, and I look forward to working together to make textbooks more easily accessible for students, professors and the public.”

Textbook costs have seen a great surge in last one decade, with 88 percent rise between 2006-2016, according to the Federal Register notice. The average cost increased to $1,263 for four-year college students and $1,458 for two–year schools in 2016-2017.

“Our effort will build on the best practices that we established over the past decade in the development of the LibreTexts,” UC Davis said in its application. “These are the same efforts that make LibreTexts the largest, highest-ranked and most-visited open educational resource (OER). To this end, we propose to expand the LibreTexts into an expansive living library of content that can be customized to faculty needs.”

The university will also expand the open textbook service, LibreTexts giving high priority to subjects like Chemistry

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