Delivering the Ideal Bag O’ Books

I just wanted to chime in real quick on the great text book cost discussion happening right now that was started by Phil Hill: Bad Data Can Lead To Bad Policy: College students don’t spend $1,200+ on textbooks

Mike Caulfield has a wonderful response: Asking What Students Spend on Textbooks Is the Wrong Question

What I wanted to add is related to Mike’s setup of what a healthy bag of textbooks might look like for a student. Here is a brief review:

A better approach to problems like the Island of Perdiem is to start with a bag of goods. We decide what it would take to keep you healthy for a week, take into consideration valid local substitutes, then look at the price of the bag.
So let’s assemble a bag of textbook goods for our student, shall we?
So what should go into our bag of textbooks?
To create our bag, I went and got the first year suggested schedule for a math education major here. I then went to the bookstore and tallied up the price of all the required and recommended texts for my first year of courses (I did not include optional texts).

He’s cutting things out of that bag to make a fair argument on total costs of that bag. But it’s likely that in a lot of cases those optional texts and other material would be included in an ideal bag of books. Teachers may make those optional because of costs and because maybe only portions of them are relevant.

So, to me, the ideal bag is bigger than these money-centered posts are discussing.

What if students got what they actually needed, not just a subset due to costs? How many more things would teachers actually like to have students access that just aren’t practical?

I don’t see how we could deliver on the real needs without OER.

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