Reducing Costs, Igniting Change: OpenCI

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session Best in Track HBCU Community College

Brief Abstract

Since 1977, the cost of college textbooks has risen over 1041%, and today’s student spends over $1,200/year on course materials. To address this issue, CSU Channel Islands launched an initiative, openCI. This presentation details and reflects upon those efforts, resulting in rapid adoption rates across disciplines on campus.


Jaime Hannans Ph.D., RN, CNE is Associate Professor of Nursing at CSU Channel Islands. She obtained her BSN and MSN from CSU Chico, and Ph.D. from University of Nevada, Las Vegas.With over 18 years critical care and float pool clinical experience, Dr. Hannans teaches medical-surgical, gerontology, and critical care content in online, blended, or on-ground courses. This year, she is one of 26 faculty across the 23 campuses awarded the CSU Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award for her work exploring and sharing innovative teaching and learning practices, including projects related to digital badges, open educational resources, open courses, digital storytelling, extended reality (augmented, virtual and mixed), and best practices in online and blended teaching-learning. Her commitment to student success, particularly for low-income first-generation students, is highlighted by her role as the CSU Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) Campus Co-Coordinator. Her research interests and publications focus on technology in teaching and learning, open educational resources and textbook affordability for student success, digital mediums for online/blended learning, nursing simulation, and augmented, mixed and virtual reality experiences to enhance learning.
J. Jacob Jenkins, PhD is an Associate Professor at California State University Channel Islands, Campus Coordinator for the CSU Affordable Learning Solutions initiative, and current OER Research Fellow for the Open Education Group. Jenkins received his B.A. in Architecture from Drury University and Ph.D. in Organizational Communication from the University of South Florida. He has been teaching full-time since 2005. During this period, Jenkins has published over 40 journal articles, book chapters, and reference works focused on community building within diverse cultural settings. His work has received national honors from the Carl Couch Institute, Waterhouse Family Institute, CMM Institute for Social Evolution, and National Communication Association, to name but a few. His current work centers on issues of student equity, and the use of Open Education Resources (OERs) to improve student success, retention, and graduation rates. He is especially passionate about uses of educational innovation to reduce barriers for historically underserved populations (i.e., racial/ethnic minorities, low-income students, and first-generation college students).

Extended Abstract

According to NBC’s review of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, textbook costs have risen over 1041% since 1977. Meanwhile, a study by BABSON Survey Research Group found that 90% of faculty either change or revise the educational materials they use in class every two years. Each of these realities result in increased costs for today’s college student, who presently spends more than $1,200 per academic year on textbooks and supplies alone.  

One potential way to address the rising cost of college textbooks is through Open Educational Resources (OERs). Yet 69% of courses with required textbooks still use traditional, printed materials. A primary reason for such meager adoption rates of OERs among university faculty is their low level of awareness. Only 34% of current faculty members report being aware of OERs, while other faculty cite a lack of resources for their adoption, and/or an inability to find the adequate resources needed.

In light of rising textbook costs and a faculty reluctance to adopt OERs in the classroom, California has launched the Affordable Learning Solutions initiative (AL$). AL$ is a concerted effort to save students money on their textbooks across each of California’s CSU, UC, and CC campuses. CSU Channel Islands (CI) has branded its specific version of AL$ as “openCI.” The goal of openCI is to provide increased awareness, education, and support for faculty to explore ways in which they can decrease the cost of course materials for students.

Two faculty coordinators led the openCI efforts on CI’s campus by collaborating with its library, as well as its Teaching & Learning Innovations team. These efforts sought to reevaluate the cost of materials used in current courses, and to explore what educational resources were available to students for a free or reduced cost. Workshops were provided to inform faculty about openCI, and to recruit openCI Ambassadors: faculty who committed to reducing the cost of their class(es) for students by at least 30%. AB798 grant funding was also utilized to support the initiatives and to further develop openCI, which resulted in rapid interest and adoption rates across many disciplines on campus.

In this presentation attendees will:

  1. Be introduced to openCI: Why? What? How?

  2. Examine an innovative approach to supporting faculty in their efforts to reduce textbook costs for students

  3. Consider the value of open educational resources (OERs)

  4. Evaluate the approach of developing openCI through the use of faculty coordinators

  5. Listen to the experiences of both faculty and students who have explored new options for accessing, cultivating, and using teaching-learning resources outside traditional textbooks

  6. Identify the impact of openCI on student textbook costs within the first 6 months of its launch

  7. Examine the barriers and challenges in implementing affordable learning solution initiatives

  8. Discuss the impact on faculty teaching and effectiveness, as it relates to the implementation of OERs

Materials that will be provided to attendees include:

Reference cards for the web-link to access presentation materials