A Virginia community college will create a pilot that relies solely on free textbooks.
As the cost of textbooks continues to rise, Virginia's Tidewater Community College recently announced the launch of a pilot program in which some students can earn an associate's degree in business administration without purchasing books, The Associated Press reports. While some colleges have strived to offer students free online textbooks when possible, college officials said this is the first time an accredited, American institution has tried to create a degree program that exclusively relies on free, or open-source texts.
Tidewater plans to complete the pilot in one year and then analyze whether it affected the quality of its courses. However, students who attend the community college next year will not be required to participate in the program. The school currently offers multiple sections for each of its 21 required business administration courses, so students can select whether they want to enroll in one that uses traditional books or one that only relies on free texts.
Daniel DeMarte, vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Tidewater, told The Virginian-Pilot that the main reason for launching the pilot is to reduce the cost of earning an associate's degree. Today, students spend about $655 on required course materials each year, according to a July 2012 study conducted by OnCampus Research.