Be COOL with OER: Using California’s Open Online Library To Save Your Students Lots of Money on Course Materials
Concurrent Session 3
Learn how your institution can lower the cost of textbooks and improve learning opportunities for your students today by leveraging California’s Open Online Library
Collectively, California State University (CSU) students are spending well over $300 million for textbooks and other course materials. In a 2011 national Student PIRG survey of 1,905 students at 13 college campuses, seven of 10 students report not buying at least one of their required textbooks because it was too expensive. Seventy-nine percent of all students in this survey stated they would do "worse/much worse" in a class without their own textbook. The affordability of course materials is a significant barrier for student success. Strategies for improving the affordable choices of course materials for CSU students have become an important part of a number of campus Graduation Initiative programs. When the total cost of education is more affordable, students graduate in less time, providing greater access to a CSU education to more of our citizens.
On January 1, 2013, California legislation was enacted which directed the California Community Colleges (CCC), the California State University (CSU), the University of California (UC), and the Intersegmental Council of Academic Senates (ICAS) to establish the California Open Education Resource Council through Senate Bill (SB) 1052 and directed the CSU to establish the California Open Online Library through SB 1053. The bills established the goal of making higher education in California more affordable by providing faculty and students access to free and lower-cost instructional materials.
In the three years since the legislation was enacted, the California State University, Office of the Chancellor was awarded grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which provided the private funds to release the state matching funds for this project. The California Open Online Library (COOL) initiative has established a curated collection of open and free etextbooks for 50 general education courses resulting in over 150 open etextbooks and 450 faculty reviews. The etextbook reviews are posted to the www.cool4ed.org website, and they are available for any instructor who is considering adopting affordable, digital course materials for their students.
Additional features of the COOL initiative are (1) the collection of faculty showcases sharing their open textbook adoption experiences which could possibly assist instructors with their decisions to adopt an open or free etextbook in the future and (2) the collection of etextbook reviews by faculty from California’s higher education segments, and (3) the collection of accessibility evaluations of the free and open etextbooks that enables faculty and students to decide if the resource is accessible for their learning. This session will provide a brief background on the COOL initiative and will share examples of the faculty adoption experiences in addition to sharing multiple resources that support faculty in the search for quality open and free etextbooks. The session will also have participants use the www.COOL4Ed.org website to explore the course catalog of free and open etextbooks, review and discuss the faculty reviews of the etextbooks as well as the interpretation of the accessibility evaluations. Finally, we will discuss how to use these tools and resources for their own textbook affordability initiative, which could be modeled after the CSU’s Affordable Learning Solutions initiative (http://csuaffordablelearningsolutions.org) and ask participates to draft a plan for the first year of their program and share with the rest of the audience.