CALMing the Cost of Textbooks: How to Create an Affordable Learning Materials Solution on Your Campus

Concurrent Session 6

Brief Abstract

The Cougars Affordable Learning Materials (CALM) Project aims to aid faculty in replacing costly textbooks by using quality open educational resources, journals, and online resources.


Barbara Taylor's career in higher education spans more than 24 years. As a first-generation college graduate, she works tirelessly to improve access for all students. An experienced learning strategist and instructional designer, she uses storytelling to entice instructors to collaborate and develop engaging learning experiences. She holds an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of California San Diego/CSU San Marcos, a M.S. in Instructional Design & Technology and a M.A. in Communication from Western Illinois University, and a B.A. in Liberal Studies from Western Illinois University.

Extended Abstract

The cost of a college education continues to rise, outpacing inflation and median income growth in the last decade. As a result, students are piling on debt and recent graduates are struggling under the weight of loans they wouldn't have needed 10 to 20 years ago. The Cougars Affordable Learning Materials Project (CALM) is part of the CSU Affordable Learning Solutions initiative started in 2010. CALM aims to aid faculty in replacing costly textbooks with lower cost alternatives by using high-quality open educational resources (OER), library resources, digital or customized textbooks, and/or faculty-authored materials.

The faculty selected to participate were awarded grants from $500-$1500 and collaborated with instructional developers to locate and evaluate resources. In addition, it is important to find partners on your campus to build momentum and buy-in. In the first semester of implementation students saved over $55,000. After Summer/Fall 2014, students had saved $717,000. Learn how much we have now saved! While the grants provided some incentive for faculty to partner and join the CALM program, there are plenty of tools and resources for everyone to use. Overall, students rate the materials as equal to or better than textbook materials.

Goals - Participants will be able to:

Start an Open Education Resources/Affordable Learning Material program on their campus.
Learn strategies for working with faculty partners and campus partners to support OER.
Identify and locate Open Education Resources and Affordable Learning Materials.