In this post we will explore various options for finding and creating affordable course materials for your students.
In 2017, the Babson Survey Group published survey results from over 2,700 faculty representing all disciplines and institutions spanning two-year, four-year, public, and private institutions in every Carnegie classification. When asked which factors were important or very important when selecting required course materials, most faculty rated cost as important or very important with comprehensive content as even more important. Over half of the faculty survey also considered the ability to edit/ adapt materials as important or very important.
Open Educational Resources (often called OER) provide a solution for all of these! OER are free for students to access, reducing cost. They are also often quality resources that are up-to-date, comprehensive, and comparable to traditional textbooks in that subject area. Excitingly, OER are shared under a license that permits anyone to edit and revise them. Frustrated because your current book doesn’t include an integral chapter? You can simply add it and re-share with OER. Teach in a cutting edge area and feel guilty about asking students to buy a new edition with small updates? With OER, you’re able to legally make updates, ensuring that the resource is continually accurate.
Lots of STEM OER are easily discoverable and ready to use! Possible OER include everything from applied discrete structures to research methods in psychology, organic chemistry lab techniques, basic anatomy and physiology, and calculus-based physics. IU Libraries has created a guide on where to find additional OER, including other disciplines outside of STEM; for example, Affordable Learning Georgia provides a list of courses by subject and links to OER materials. These subjects range from American government, public speaking, human anatomy and everything in between.
Another option for finding more affordable materials, is the IU eTexts program which provides students access to digital learning materials at a greatly reduced cost. IU eTexts is an IU-developed initiative with the goals of 1) driving down costs of materials for students, 2) giving faculty access to high-quality materials of choice, 3) developing new tools for teaching and learning, and 4) shaping the terms of eTexts models.
IU eTexts are not simply digital copies of traditional textbooks. They are multiple forms of digital learning materials, integrated into the Canvas course site before the first day of class. The discounted costs are charged to the Bursar account as a Course Fee, covered by all forms of financial aid. This means that all of your students will have access to the course text before the first day of class. The e-reader also has features to help students engage with the text through note-taking and being able to view and post questions about the text. Learn more about IU eTexts through this Canvas course: “IU eTexts: A Faculty and Staff Introduction” and share this course with your students: “The Student Guide to IU eTexts”
Lastly, you can explore Pressbooks which is a cloud-based text creation and publishing tool that is being piloted by IU through the Unizin consortium. Authors can create text and publish it so that it is formatted for online distribution and accessible on eReaders. Learn more about Pressbooks from this Knowledge Base article.
If you want to learn more, join us for a session focused on OERs for STEM courses on November 2nd STEM Tech2Teach: Have Your Cake and Eat It Too -Tips for Finding Diverse, High-Quality, Affordable Course Material. Registration is required since lunch is provided.
This session will provide an introduction to OER, strategies and repositories for finding OER, and tips for revising OER. Instructors will also learn about tools for creating (or having students create) customized course materials when no OER options exist.
Can’t attend the session? Questions about finding, evaluating, and incorporating OER can be directed to Sarah Hare, Scholarly Communication Librarian, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to Sarah Hare, Mark Goodner, and Amy Minix for contributing to this blog post.