Textbook plan hopes to save RI college students $5 million

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday some college students have told her the cost of textbooks can keep some people from going to college altogether.

Since Gov. Raimondo announced a goal last week to get Rhode Islanders more educated — putting a deadline of 2025 to have 70 percent of Rhode Islanders having earned at least an associate’s degree — she announced an idea that some might term revolutionary.

“The Rhode Island Open Textbook Initiative will help train librarians, faculty, and students to identify and incorporate openly licensed textbooks and put $5 million back in students’ pockets,” Gov. Raimondo said at Tuesday’s announcement.

Open-source textbooks replace a traditional textbook with free, peer-reviewed textbooks that can be used at no cost, and on a digital viewer — instead of being purchased at a high cost for a smaller run of seriously durable hardbound books.

Open-source material, like encyclopedia entries on online encyclopedia Wikipedia, is usually disseminated with a license that understands that the material’s author will be credited for their work, wherever the work is shared.

The announcement was made at Rhode Island College, where a biology class is launching a pilot program with open-source textbooks for this school year.

Besides RIC, the following colleges and universities are also supporting the plan, the governor’s office said: the University of Rhode Island, the Community College of Rhode Island, Bryant University, Brown University, Roger Williams University, and the New England Institute of Technology.

Raimondo’s goal to get Rhode Islanders to earn degrees stems from an estimate that seven out of 10 jobs created in the near future will require more than a high school diploma.

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