I’m so excited that the topic of the luncheon on November 20th will be textbooks. One of the most frustrating parts about taking a college course for students can be the textbook!

For one, textbooks are ridiculously expensive. Options like buying used and renting from Chegg are great options for students, but texts can still make a huge dent in students’ budgets. Even more trying is the fact that, due to textbook companies continually releasing new versions of books, students may take their book to the bookstore at the end of the semester only to find that it is now worth nothing!

In my own classes, I allow students to use older versions of textbooks in order to reduce their costs. While the page numbers may be slightly off and some items may have been updated, the new versions of textbooks are largely the same. I have a 1995 version of the Little, Brown Handbook, for example that contains some of the same information–word for word!–as the latest edition. The page numbers are off and the chapters are in different orders, but the information within is the same. If a student is willing to use the Index and the Table of Contents, they are likely to be able to do well in my course, at least, with an older version.

Unfortunately, one of the best features of some of my favorite textbooks is the online component. McGraw-Hill, for example, has an amazing system that allows students to complete a learning plan where they can improve on their grammar throughout the semester in a personalized path. It’s easily integrated into Canvas, so it is an ideal component. However, the cost of this additional online service is almost as much as the original textbook.

I really like the idea of the open source textbooks (and, with an online class, you can almost link to anything you want students to read!). But, many students still prefer texts that they can hold in their hands. I, for one, have trouble retaining information if I read it online. There’s something about combining the tactical page turning with the visual words that enhances my memory.

At any rate, I’m so glad that these conversations are happening. I’m happy to do whatever I can to enhance my students’ experience and, hopefully, keep them in school long enough to achieve their goals!