Accessible and Affordable Open-Source Digital Textbooks

AS-3070-12/FGA/AA (Rev)

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU) reaffirm its commitment to development and use of affordable and accessible textbook options, as set forth in AS-2730-06/AA, AS-2747-06/FA, AS-2921-09/FGA (Rev), and in the Report of the CSU Textbook Affordability Taskforce; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU commend Senators Darrell Steinberg and Elaine Alquist for their
recognition of the importance of affordable and accessible course materials to student access and success in California higher education; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU extend its appreciation to the authors of SB 1052 and 1053 (Steinberg and Alquist) for recognizing the central role of faculty in this process by:

  • the early consultation with faculty leaders from all three segments of California higher education in the development of the bill language; and
  • stipulating (in SB 1052) that membership of the to-be-established California Open Education Resources Council – the body that will be charged with overseeing the development and distribution of the open-source course digital materials – consist of faculty drawn from the state’s three higher education segments; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU hold that, under Title 5, faculty ultimately have control over the
selection of course materials assigned in their classes and urge the bills’ authors to recognize this by including a provision in the legislation’s language acknowledging that faculty will not be required to adopt any of the course materials developed under this legislation should they feel it unsuitable for meeting the needs of their students;
and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU urge state policy makers to emulate this consultative process and
solicit faculty expertise as early as possible when considering issues affecting higher education in the future; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU distribute this resolution to the CSU Board of Trustees, the Chancellor, Governor Jerry Brown, Senators Steinberg and Alquist, Members of the Senate Education Committee, Members of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, and Campus Senate Chairs.

RATIONALE: The ASCSU has long been aware of the burden imposed upon students by high textbook costs and has consistently supported efforts by the CSU, by publishers, and by the California Legislature to control textbook costs by promoting the development of readily accessible and affordable textbook options. SB 1052 and 1053 are further steps to this end.

SB 1052 (Steinberg/Alquist) would establish the California Open Education Resources Council, which would consist of nine faculty members (three for each of the state’s public higher education segments) and would have responsibility for

  • identifying the 50 most widely taught lower-division courses in the state’s public higher education segments;
  • establishing a “request for proposal’ process by which faculty, publishers, and others can apply for funds to produce open-source textbooks for each of these courses;
  • developing strategies for overseeing the development and distribution of the resulting textbooks.
  • The bill would also require publishers to provide each campus using the text, three free copies to be placed in their libraries on open reserve.

SB 1053 (Steinberg./Alquist) establishes the California Open Source Digital Library to house and make readily accessible the open source materials developed under SB 1053. It would require all such materials to carry a creative commons attribution license, meaning they are available free of charge for non-profit uses.

While a master copy of the material developed under this legislation will be archived in the proposed California Open Source Digital Library, the intention is that materials would be open-source, giving faculty the ability to adapt individual versions of them to suit specific course needs.

The potential outcome of this legislation would be to make available to faculty teaching those courses a wider array of inexpensive course materials than currently exists, which could have the effect of reducing students’ overall textbook costs. At the same time, however, Title 5 places the ultimate responsibility for the management of course curriculum, which by necessity includes the selection of textbooks and other course materials, in the hands of the faculty. As a result, the development of textbooks and course materials under this legislation cannot be seen as requiring faculty to use them in their courses. The authors of the legislation have repeatedly acknowledged this, both in private conversation and public before the Senate Committee on Education (Hearing, April 11, 2012), stating their intention is to increase the course material options available to faculty, not dictate what must be used.

Approved Without Dissent – May 3-4, 2012


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