Affordability Counts: Implementing an Affordability Strategy to Impact Learning

Concurrent Session 10
Leadership

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Research has shown that if total costs run too high, students often opt out of purchasing textbooks, or may drop courses altogether, leading to delays in graduation or dropping out. Faculty don’t always know what their required course materials cost, and even if they do, they may not have the knowledge and/or resources available to redesign their course with cost and quality in mind.

The Affordability Counts program was created as a direct response to the increasing costs of textbooks in higher education. As part of the Affordability Counts initiative, faculty self-identify as teaching courses that contain course materials that are low cost. Courses that meet the selection criteria earn the ‘Affordability Counts’ medallion which can then be displayed within the course in the learning management system and course syllabus. The Affordability Counts initiative was awarded an OLC Effective Practice Award at OLC Accelerate november 2017.

Presenters

David-John Palmer is a dedicated leader in higher education who is passionate about the use of technology to enhance learning experiences. David-John is the Associate Director of Educational Technology at FIU Online where he is charged with oversight of online and blended course development and the multimedia studios. He is responsible for the implementation of new learning technologies, designing and developing instructional courses that bring greater efficiency and effectiveness to acquiring knowledge for learners. David-John serves as an Adjunct Lecturer for the College of Business' Information Systems and Business Analytics department, has presented as part of an opening keynote and facilitated sessions at national conferences. As a certified technical instructor with a proficiency in multimedia software he brings a wealth of knowledge to aid in defining the ultimate learner experience. David-John holds a Bachelors degree in Graphic and Multimedia Design and a Masters degree in Information Systems. His expertise includes instructional systems design, online program management, website development, graphic and multimedia design.

Extended Abstract

It’s no secret that the rising costs of textbooks are creating challenges for many students. According to the report Hunger on Campus, The Challenge of Food Insecurity for College Students, nearly half of the students surveyed said they were going hungry because of the costs associated with their education. When you consider that the average cost of a textbook is estimated between $153 and $200, it’s quite obvious that one way to lower costs for students is to start using less expensive course materials.

FIU Online began "Affordability Counts" to recognize faculty who were actively making changes to the courses they teach to reduce the cost of course materials to students. As part of the Affordability Counts initiative, faculty at the university self-identify as teaching courses that contain course materials that are under $60. Faculty who meet the target price and the selection criteria then receive a recognition known as the ‘Affordability Counts’ medallion. The Affordability Counts program was created as a direct response to the increasing costs of textbooks in higher education. Courses that meet the selection criteria earn the ‘Affordability Counts’ medallion which can then be displayed within the course in the learning management system and course syllabus. The Affordability Counts initiative was awarded an Effective Practice Award at OLC Accelerate november 2017. And, FIU was selected as one of 11 schools nationwide for 2017-2018’s Institutional Partnership Program with OpenStax.

In this presentation we will:

  • review some of the research that has been done on the impact of cost on student success

  • outline the program we have implemented at our institution to support and enhance the adoption of low-cost and OER resources;

  • share our experiences working with faculty, the resources we’ve helped them find they’ve chosen to use, and the financial impact we’ve had thus far;

  • examine our lessons learned, including both what worked and what did not; and

  • introduce our next steps to expand the impact and reach of the Affordability Counts initiative.

This session is particularly suited for administrators and faculty working with open educational resources and those interested in reducing the overall cost of learning materials.