Information Technology Department Leverages Grants to Eliminate Textbook Costs

KENNESAW, Ga. | Dec 18, 2020

Bucking the trend of rising textbook costs, one Kennesaw State University department is nearing completion on an effort to save students an estimated $1.3 million by converting course material to open educational resources through the support of Affording Learning Georgia (ALG) grants.

Kennesaw State’s Department of Information Technology recently received three awards totaling more than $50,000 from round 18 of the ALG program, a University System of Georgia initiative which promotes alternatives to expensive textbooks. The funding enables the department to finish moving its course material into a digital format – making them into zero-textbook-cost programs, a new term department officials use to explain eliminated textbook costs from all courses within a degree program.

Over the last six years, Kennesaw State has received more than $1 million in ALG grants impacting more than 20,000 students representing all of the institution’s academic units.  Students have saved an estimated $4.4 million annually in textbook costs. The Department of Information Technology accounted for approximately 30 percent of the ALG efforts.

“I'm incredibly proud of how hard our faculty members and administrators have worked on this initiative to lower costs for our students,” said Jeff Chastine, interim dean of the College of Computing and Software Engineering. “This initiative puts us in rare company here in Georgia and across the nation, and it truly opens more doors for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to shoulder the rising cost of textbooks.”

The move is timely, as the cost of textbooks has soared by more than 135 percent since 2001, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the College Board estimates that the average full-time undergraduate student will spend about $1,298 per year on books and supplies.

Beyond the cost savings, the move to digital also gives professors greater flexibility in keeping the course material up to date with current trends.

“Information Technology is an area in which the curriculum can change quite often in order to keep pace with changes in the industry,” said Rebecca Rutherfoord, chair of the Department of Information Technology. “It can take years for some of the textbooks to reach the publication phase and often that means it can be dated fairly quickly. Now, we have the ability to adjust our materials as we progress and ensure our students are receiving the most relevant information.”

Faculty members began moving the remaining course material to a digital format this fall with the goal of making it available to students in the summer. By fall 2021, the department expects to offer its Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology and Master of Science in Information Technology degree programs without physical textbooks.

– Travis Highfield

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit