Throughout the State of Ohio, numerous institutions have been working collaboratively to identify and create open/affordable resources that can help lower the cost of materials for students. Numerous research studies have identified that access to materials on the first day of class is crucial to overall student success and retention. Unfortunately, many students choose not to purchase required materials due to cost because financial aid cannot be used to pay for textbooks. As a result, these students begin their course at a disadvantage.
Through our collaboration with OhioLINK and the Open Textbook Network (OTN), Faculty are encouraged to review open textbooks and determine for themselves if the resource meets their course objectives. Numerous departments are now in the preliminary stages of either authoring, curating, or adopting open/affordable texts and resources.
University Libraries, Design and Development Services, the U.C. Textbook Committee, and the Institute for Teaching and Learning have been working to advance the adoption of open textbooks across multiple courses. A list of the top 50 highest enrolled courses with the potential for open/affordable textbooks and open educational resource adoption has been compiled in addition to the average textbook cost of our most popular majors in an effort to spread awareness amongst faculty.
In an effort to focus resources, numerous affordable learning campus initiatives are being consolidated into an upcoming web site to promote collaboration and information sharing regarding development grants and resources.
The University of Akron currently has two courses that utilize open textbooks as a direct result of our faculty development initiatives. Principles of Microeconomics has adopted the Open Stax Principles of Economics textbook, which has saved students between $32,000 to $81,000 in material costs (dependent on whether a student purchased the fully online textbook or a hardcopy).
We also have a new course called “Exploring Biology”, which makes use of the Boundless.com Open Biology textbook. This text has since been placed into Lumen Learning’s open textbook repository. Through the adoption of this open text in addition to identifying some affordable supplemental materials, we have been able to lower the cost of materials by 85%.
How to Get Started
There will be a free kickoff event for affordable learning initiatives on February 15th. This free pre-conference workshop is being held the day before the New Explorations in Teaching (NEXT) conference. The session is designed to teach faculty about the Open Textbook Network (OTN), the challenges of adopting/reviewing open texts, state-wide initiatives that are currently underway, and strategies for getting the conversation started on campus / in their department. This session will be led by the OhioLINK Affordable Learning Ambassadors, and runs from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Lunch is also provided. To learn more, and to register for this event, please visit: http://uakron.edu/next