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Open Educational Resources (OERs): Tools for Affordable Learning

This guide describes high-quality educational resources that can be used to decrease material costs for courses at WSU and in higher education more broadly.

Course Material Cost Reduction Initiative

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In collaboration with the Associated Students of Washington State University (ASWSU), Interim President Dan Bernardo convened a task force in 2016 to explore the issue of rising costs of course materials, potential solutions and alternatives, as well as challenges. The taskforce delivered recommendations in response to ASWSU’s Course Materials Cost Reduction Initiative in which students noted, “The proliferation of textbook prices, course fees, access codes, iClickers and other BYOD instructional formats have become a problem for the current generation of students. This is heightened by the inability to sell back textbooks and other materials.” Initial recommendations from the taskforce include:

  • Communication with faculty about textbook prices, Bookie purchase best practices, and the value of open educational resources (OERs).
  • Increased use of free open educational resources
  • Standardization of quick response systems
  • Inclusion of course materials and textbooks as part of tuition and fees
  • Movement away from textbook bundles

For more information, see the final report delivered by the taskforce in May 2016.

Get Help with OER

If you are interested in doing an open education project, don't hesitate to reach out. WSU Libraries and Academic Outreach and Innovation are partnering up to provide support, including the following:

  • We can help locate OERs!
  • We can field questions about licensing, copyright, and sharing OERs.
  • We can provide library-licensed resources for use in your classes. Contact your Subject Specialist for details.
  • We can consult about instructional design and support the technical aspects of your project.
  • We may be able to host your educational materials in Research Exchange, PressBooks, Omeka, or other online platforms, to ensure that students can continue to access your course materials..

For more information, feel free to get in touch with:

Talea Anderson, Scholarly Communication Librarian, Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation at WSU Libraries, talea.anderson@wsu.edu, 509-335-2266

Michael Caulfield, Director of Blended and Networked Learning, Academic Affairs, WSU Vancouver, michael.caulfield@vancouver.wsu.edu, 360-546-9157

Theron Desrosier, Learning Design Consultant, Academic Outreach and Innovation, theron@wsu.edu, 509-335-9245

Affordable Learning Grants

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For instructors who are interested in adopting or creating OERs for their classes, WSU has provided support in 2017-2019 via Affordable Learning Grants. The purpose of these grants is to reduce the cost of course materials while maintaining the quality of class content.

In early 2017 and 2018, WSU Libraries and Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI) invited faculty members to apply for grants of $1,000-$5,000 to fund the adoption or development of OERs for use in classes. Applicants were asked to demonstrate that course costs could be reduced through use of OERs or library-licensed content. During summer 2017 and summer 2018, WSU Libraries and AOI assisted successful applicants as they located, adapted, or adopted appropriate materials. It is hoped that grant funding and support will continue into the future. Please contact Talea Anderson at talea.anderson@wsu.edu or 509-335-2266 for more information.

Open Textbook Library Membership

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Open Textbook Network (OTN) is an initiative at the University of Minnesota intended to help faculty members quickly find and assess open textbooks in use at other institutions of higher education. As OTN notes, open textbooks are “textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed.” OTN invites instructors to review textbooks and publish their comments on the OTN website. Criteria for assessment include comprehensiveness of the book, accuracy, relevance and longevity, clarity, consistency, modularity, organization, interface, grammar, and cultural relevance.

Representatives from Open Textbook Network will visit WSU in January 2017 to introduce the Open Textbook Library and invite reviews of textbooks. Further details will be released as they become available. For more information, please contact Talea Anderson at talea.anderson@wsu.edu or 509-335-2266.

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us