Savings are based on comparisons between required course resources pre- and post-redesign. Figures are cumulative since Spring 2012.
Course materials (textbooks, access codes for homework sites, and other curricular materials) are a growing part of cost of higher education. In fact, according to a 2013 GAO Report, textbook prices increased 3 times more than the rate of inflation between 2002 and 2012. Undergraduates at American are expected to spend approximately $800 per year on textbooks and supplies, on top of tuition and fees. These costs are significant, and in practice, students sometimes forgo texts that they cannot afford.
Open Educational Resources
Fortunately, in recent years, many academics and other professionals have begun producing Open Educational Resources, or OERs. As defined by UNESCO, OERs “are teaching, learning, or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution.” OERs are available in a wide variety of disciplines, academic levels, and formats including textbooks, online quizzes, instructional modules, assignments, articles, interactive simulations, and image, video, and audio files. Such OERs are available digitally to students at no cost.
Through the Open American Initiative, the Center for Teaching, Research & Learning offers logistical and technological support to AU faculty who make the switch from cost-bearing textbooks and other resources to freely available OERs. CTRL can assist you with finding OERs to supplement or replace your existing course materials. You might get started by browsing an Open Textbook repository to explore existing OER-based textbooks that are free to students.
American University is a proud member of the Open Textbook Network (OTN), an active community of over 600 campuses across the country (that’s about 15% of higher education!) that promote access, affordability, and student success through the use of open textbooks. Additionally, AU faculty have access to the Open Textbook Library, a collection of over 450 openly-licensed textbooks across 14 subject areas, many of which have been peer reviewed by faculty from OTN member institutions.
Faculty are saying…
“Working on this OER project allowed me to gather quality materials from reputable sources and put them together for my course at no cost to the students. Moreover, because the OER textbook is editable, I can tailor it according to my students’ needs. It also gave me the opportunity to explore and discover alternative ideas for teaching my material, which greatly enhanced students’ learning experience in my class.”
“I teach discussion-based classes, and the OERs have helped enhance the caliber of discussions. In addition, the updated readings have broadened the students’ knowledge of American history, politics and culture. Whether students major/minor in American Studies or use this class to complement other fields of study at AU and abroad, I feel confident that I’m sending them out as more well-rounded students.”