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New Textbook Liberation Fund Will Help Faculty Ditch High-Priced Textbooks

A new Textbook Liberation Fund offers grants for "faculty members or departments who want to transition their courses away from high-priced textbooks." The $500,000 fund was launched today by Skyepack, the digital publishing platform for open educational resources (OER), with the goal of saving college students $1 billion.

"We believe students deserve cost-effective and simple alternatives to the textbook ecosystem most of us are familiar with," said Skyepack Chief Executive Officer Brady Kalb in a press release. "Getting your books or course required reading shouldn't necessitate a student loan."

Originally developed as one of Purdue University's Studio applications and then split off as a separate entity, Skyepack provides the platform, services and design team to help faculty create low-cost digital alternatives to traditional textbooks. The company "utilizes open educational resources (OER), content the instructor has already created or plans to create, custom content created by [Skyepack], and content licensed from third parties to develop custom alternative
materials for specific courses as well as entire departments." Educators retain ownership of the content they create.

Grant proposals for the Textbook Liberation Fund must be submitted at the fund's Web site by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Feb. 28, 2016 (see site for rules and conditions). Proposals will be peer reviewed, "taking into consideration the feasibility and student impact of the project." Selected grant recipients will also be able to work one-on-one with the Skyepack instructional design team.

"We are excited about the opportunity for faculty members, departments and schools to create sustainable projects for the cost reduction of course materials," said Kalb. "We firmly believe the accessibility of course materials directly impacts student engagement and knowledge retention. It's time to evolve from the traditional textbook ecosystem and offer more alternatives to students at a lower cost."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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