Technology is now central to people’s education, but it comes at a cost for students in higher education. As a student at the University of Oregon, I saw this first hand when I saw the list of books I needed for winter term. I was appalled — six books, and I couldn’t even afford lunch.
I spent a week locating the cheapest versions of my textbooks. Luckily, I was able to find five of the books for $100. Yet the last book I needed defeated me — a Spanish textbook with an access code to do my homework online.
I asked multiple people if I could avoid it, yet I didn’t have an option; I had to rent the book online for $200. It was a burden to buy these books, but I’m not the only one forced to go through this. The college board expects every student in higher education to budget $1,200 for textbooks each year.
Technology has helped students find cheap alternatives, but at the same time hinders students since publishing companies have created online pay walls. When it comes to access codes, students can’t borrow books, share or use old books, because an access code requires a student to always buy it new.
Technology doesn’t have to be the enemy, though; it can be the solution by helping us access open education resources. These are free and open alternatives we should be prioritizing. The solution exists to textbook affordability; we just need to apply it.