December 19, 2011, 4:01 pm

By Alexandra Rice

Colleges across the country took note when Washington State announced its Open Course Library initiative in October, offering community-college students affordable online resources for some of the most popular courses.

Now other states and colleges are exploring similar options.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst awarded 10 teaching faculty $1,000 grants this spring as a part of its Open Education Initiative. The faculty members submitted proposals for developing free or low-cost digital resources as an alternative to students purchasing commercial textbooks. The university estimates the effort will save 700 students $72,000 over the 2011-12 academic year.

On the West Coast, Darrell Steinberg, the leader of California’s Senate, proposed a bill to establish the online California Digital Open Source Library, MindShift’s Tina Barseghian reported. If passed, the bill will allocate $25-million in state funds to create 50 free online college textbooks.

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