Some UNG professors are implementing free, online textbooks

Some UNG professors are taking the initiative to keep students from breaking the bank and their backs by providing free digital textbooks.

One such professor is Ana Bonfante, a German lecturer on the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus. She created her own collection of varying resources for her students to use as an alternative to a textbook.

Expensive printed textbooks no more. (Photo by Vanguard staff)

“Although I understand that authors and publishing houses want to make profits, I believe I need to do what is best for my students,” Bonfante said. “If I can save them money while still providing quality materials, then why not?”

One student who would benefit from more professors taking this alternate route is Dakota Spivey, a history major and junior at UNG. Last fall, he needed to purchase 16 textbooks, and did so out of pocket. The most he has spent on textbooks in one semester has been $600.

“For me, being a college student without scholarships, it’s hard to find the money for books that I’ll only need for one semester and then just end up selling,” Spivey said. “Most of the time, the books don’t even have any resale ability.”

Another professor who has taken the initiative to provide learning alternatives is Ana Harris-Pozzi, an art lecturer on UNG’s Dahlonega campus.

“I really feel that art books are especially overpriced,” Pozzi-Harris said. “The textbooks made sense when there were no online materials, but now the quality of an online image is superior to the quality of a printed image, is much cheaper and the information is usually good.”

For several of her classes, Pozzi-Harris  has decided to use Khan Academy, Art Story, selected readings from various websites and her own notes that recap her lectures in great detail.

Khan Academy is an online learning website that is free to students. The Art Story is a non-profit organization that has created a website to further art appreciation.

After spending $280 on textbooks during the fall semester, sophomore graphic design major Obulu Anetor was grateful to have Pozzi-Harris as her professor this semester for Introduction to Art History II.

“Professor Pozzi-Harris has helped me save a lot of money and the sources that she provides are interesting and extremely helpful,” Anetor said.

Pozzi-Harris’s efforts to gather lower-cost resources for her students has allowed her to hold students to a higher standard. They have little to no excuse for not having completed assignments due to the  accessibility of the materials, she said.

“I feel more entitled to require students to do the reading and take the time to study the notes when the material is freely available to them at all times,” Pozzi-Harris said.

Anetor agrees, and has taken the responsibility to keep up with her work because of this.

“It is amazing that Professor Pozzi-Harris provides us with weekly links to keep us on track and proactively learning so that we have no excuse to fall behind,” Anetor said.

Another issue that students and educators alike deal with is  lack of consistent textbook usage. For as much as a student pays, textbook use across the semester often equates to only a fraction of the overall cost of the book.

“I rarely use the textbooks that I’m required to buy,” Anetor said. “Even when I do use them, they are never as much help as I would like for them to be.”

“I’ve tried a variety of the standard, pricey textbooks but wasn’t completely satisfied with the way in which the content was presented,” Bonfante said. “Now, by using open resources I have much more flexibility at no cost to the students. “

In addition to UNG professors expanding their resources, Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG), a program created by the University System of Georgia, has made efforts to lower the costs of textbooks by providing grants to educators that allows for them to transform their learning sources into lower cost options.

According to ALG, since its launch in 2014 it has saved students an estimated $31.3 million in textbook costs.

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