15 A Letter to My University: Open Access to Education

Jacob McMaster

Dear Plymouth State University,

You pay $522,000 per year for databases. Most of that money I would assume this is coming from the student’s tuition. If Plymouth State switched over to open access most of that money spent on data bases and what not could be used for other things that the school might need. Open Access is the free, availability of research articles and online textbooks combined with the rights to use these articles in the digital environment through creative commons license. It is also proven that open access books/articles can be updated more frequently then a typical article or textbook, thus making Open Access more accurate and updated to current events. Many people think since open access can be edited by students and teachers that it won’t be as reliable as a textbook. This isn’t always correct though; Open Access could be a better form of Wikiuniveristy if every college used it, since their mission is to allow information to be used for free for any subject.

The College Board puts the average annual cost of books and materials for a college student at $655 to $1,168 per year depending on your classes/major. The Huffington Post has a post about the 812% increase in the price of textbooks, they said “College textbook prices have increased faster than tuition, health care costs and housing prices, all of which have risen faster than inflation”. So why is Plymouth State still making us pay for textbooks when there are plenty of other resources such as, Open Access resources that can be used by students for free? If the school switched to open access instead of textbooks they could use that money towards other things to make the school a better place.

If Plymouth is worried about the credibility of the Open Access websites, books, or articles they don’t need to be because the websites can be verified to be credible. We can make sure to regularly review the articles and check the validity of the information with the publisher. Also, there could be a username and password so that only select people are allowed to write information. This also holds people accountable for what they write. Therefor all the information in each article is up to date with the most recent news and information. When professors can’t access the most recent research, they are deprived of the opportunity to bring that material into the classroom to their students. With science advancing every day, it’s important that professors have access to cutting-edge research, so the students educations are not outdated before they even finish a course.

Some colleges have already made the switch to online learning through open access dropping textbooks. For example MIT has already switched over and it seems to be working well for them. As said in the article by Science Alert, “MIT in Cambridge is already leading the way in this area, with their OpenCourseWare program, which was launched back in 2001 and put ALL of the education materials from the college’s undergraduate and postgrad courses freely available online, for anyone in the world to download – including textbooks written by MIT professors.” 38 colleges have already switched over so hopefully Plymouth State will switch soon and save their students some money.


A Concerned Student

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