Free textbooks help open doors to an M State

One more barrier to a college degree is falling on the Detroit Lakes campus of Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Students who enroll in fall 2016 business courses on that campus will receive a 7-inch tablet computer already loaded with their assigned textbooks – at no cost.

Business students will be the beneficiaries of a $10,000 grant awarded to marketing instructor Bryan Christensen by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. While he has used free online or “open” textbooks in his courses in the past, Christensen said the grant allows him to go one step further and provide students with a tablet for accessing the books. In the past, students needed a personal laptop to download the books.

“This fall my students will have zero cost for books,” he said. “We wanted a better way to increase access to both textbooks and to college, and this takes away another obstacle. My students don’t have to spend $175 to $200 for business textbooks.”

Students eligible for the Lenovo tablets will be enrolled in five marketing, advertising and selling courses taught by Christensen in the Business: Management, Marketing and Sales program. The grant funds will allow M State to purchase about 50 tablets, which should cover all students in his courses.

In addition to the textbooks, the tablets will be loaded with the Microsoft Office Suite and a number of other features.

Christensen received funding for the project through MnSCU’s Campus Open Textbook Projects, which awarded more than $150,000 in grants to seven institutions. The goal of the grant project is to raise awareness of open textbooks, which are textbooks available online at no cost to students and teachers.