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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Open Educational Resources Save Students Millions

Dr. Chris Brum and Provost Johnson

More than $2.6 million.

That’s how much students at San Diego State University have saved by using the  Affordable Learning Solutions and open educational resources.

Affordable Learning Solutions allows faculty to choose and provide more affordable, quality educational content for their students, increasing the number of them who acquire the course materials they need for their classes. The materials are usually free or are available at a reduced cost.

Dr. Chris Brum, a faculty in the College of Education’s Department of Special Education, uses these resources on a regular basis and was recently recognized at the San Diego State University SDSU Affordable Learning Solutions Faculty Recognition Event for helping his students save money.

“Affordable Learning Solutions get me excited because the students get excited about using them. I have found that it goes beyond just using free or reduced cost materials,” said Brum. “Moving away from a textbook has allowed me to use a variety of materials each week to prepare and engage my students in that week's lecture content.”

Brum said he’s delighted to hear his students’ positive comments about the articles or TED talks he has them read and watch. “It's common now for students to say to me as they walk into class: ‘That article was really cool’ or ‘I really liked that TED Talk you had us watch’; statements that I had never heard related to textbook readings in my decade of teaching in higher education,” Brum said.

Open educational resources “are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes.”

The high-quality materials can be accessed online so that everyone can use them for free.

In the spring of 2016, SDSU got two state grants intended to fund activities that promote the use of more affordable or free, open textbooks and other instructional materials. With one grant, SDSU created the Immediate Access Program, which gives students early access to affordable digital textbooks in their Blackboard courses. Since then, more than 20,000 students have participated saving them over $2 million. The other grant is being used to encourage faculty to adopt lower cost, open educational resources including the use of free textbooks. Since the fall of 2016, eight faculty have switched to open educational resources, resulting in savings of $627,457 for 5,154 students.

Brum is one of the faculty.

“Textbooks and course materials are the hidden costs in higher education. We know that most students are not purchasing the textbook. As an instructor, that means that my students are not coming into class prepared,” Brum said. “Using a variety of materials has allowed me to bring more innovative materials into the required reading section of my course, and also expose my students to a variety of different perspectives too.”