Pearson Education, a major textbook publisher, will be at the UNC Bookstore to promote their All-in Digital Access program to professors and faculty on Thursday afternoon. This program effectively reduces financial flexibility for students and eliminates the market for used textbooks and other alternatives that help lower course material costs. Essentially, Pearson’s program would function as a glorified access code, creating a paywall to affordable education for students. Pearson recently sold N.C. State on the idea to adopt this All-in Access Program and UNC must not make the same mistake.
Pearson’s proposed digital access program would force professors to use Pearson textbooks and would eliminate the ability for them to adopt alternatives such as Open Educational Resources (OERs) or cheaper previous edition textbooks. OERs are free, peer-reviewed educational materials that professors and students can use, copy and share. Many UNC faculty members are still unaware of OpenStax, Open Textbook Library, and N.C. Live, which each provide free textbooks for many subjects. According to Bradley Hemminger, Associate Professor at the School of Information and Library Science, the library will even help professors identify freely available course materials suitable for their courses.
The high cost of textbooks is a significant barrier to education for many UNC students. Professors should strive to adopt OERs rather than force their students to pay Pearson for overpriced, digital textbooks. UNC professors and faculty must not succumb to Pearson’s sales pitch if they wish to promote college affordability on campus and act in students’ best interests.
Class of 2020