Ani Ruhil reduces costs for students by creating his own textbook

Emily Bartelheim
June 8, 2017

Recent studies have found that the hefty price tag on textbooks impacts students’ learning experiences. According to a January 2014 SPIRG report, 65 percent of students choose to go without textbooks for a class because they are too expensive, even though 94 percent of them believe this will negatively impact their grade for that class. This study also found that nearly half of all students surveyed said the price of textbooks affected how many and which classes they took each semester.

For these very reasons and more, instructors at Ohio University are increasing their efforts to lower student costs. OHIO students report spending over $1,000 per year on books.

Particularly ambitious OHIO faculty are creating their own materials. Anirudh Ruhil, associate professor of leadership & public affairs, is currently creating a textbook for an intro to statistics course for on-campus, blended, and online Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) students.

Ruhil said there are only two real textbook options in his subject area and he doesn’t think either are cost effective, so he decided to write his own to better fit his needs. He estimates using his own free textbook will save each of his students between $100–$300.

Ruhil is writing his entire book from his own notes using free, open-source programming and statistics packages (e.g., RR StudioLaTeXGitHub). He has been able to dedicate time to this project over the past year through the University’s Faculty Fellowship Leave Program.

Ruhil hopes to pilot a first draft of the book during fall semester (2017) in his on-campus and hybrid MPA classes. The textbook will be hosted online as an open-source text. It will be available as a PDF, website, or e-pub; it will have indexes, hyperlinks, and an attached bibliography. “Anybody who wants to use it, they’re welcome to use it. If they don’t want to, that’s fine too, but I’m not going to sell it or advertise it,” he said.

This article has been condensed. To read the full article, click here.