This week marks the one-year anniversary of a statewide initiative to increase access to openly licensed textbooks at Rhode Island’s colleges and universities.
The RI Open Textbook Initiative, which was proposed by Gov. Gina Raimondo, challenges the state’s higher education institutions to save students $5 million over five years with openly licensed textbooks.
To date, the initiative has served 6,100 college students in Rhode Island, amounting to an estimated $870,000 in savings to date. That’s not far off track from the governor’s stated goal to save students $5 million in five years.
All 11 public and private higher education institutions in Rhode Island agreed to support the effort, and over 40 professors at these schools reported adopting open textbooks.
“We need to attack the problem of college affordability from every angle,” Raimondo, a Democrat, said in a statement. “It’s not just the cost of courses or standardized tests that price students out of getting a degree; it’s also the cost of textbooks. That’s why, last year, I launched the Rhode Island Open Textbook Initiative, challenging every college and university in the state to save students money by switching to free, openly licensed textbooks. And just one year in, we’re seeing results.”
A major aspect of this initiative is ensuring that open text access meets the students’ wide variety of needs, said Catherine Rolfe, spokesperson for Raimondo.
“We didn’t want to force courses to transfer to an open text if it didn’t make sense for that program or didn’t meet the high standard of quality we’re looking for in our education system,” Rolfe told EdScoop. “A big part of the success of this initiative has been our effort to personalize resources and make sure the transition to open text works for each school and ultimately benefits the students.”
This initiative is part of a larger suite of projects Raimondo has taken on to make education more accessible and affordable for Rhode Islanders, Rolfe said.
Rhode Island recently became the fourth state in the nation to offer free community college, and Raimondo’s office is now working to ensure that at least 70 percent of working-aged Rhode Islanders hold an associate degree by 2025.