Textbooks can create a huge burden on students. Introductory level natural science textbooks can cost an average of $150. While the most expensive natural science textbook used at Connecticut College was almost $350; the equivalent of a work-study student having to work 35 hours to purchase the textbook. Even though students do not have to pay the College for our textbooks, the price of textbooks creates unnecessary stress and economic strains, especially for low-income students. There are many professors that ask students to purchase a bucket list of books and textbooks for their courses, but far too often, students read selected chapters, or sometimes not reading the book at all. The Research Support and Curricular Technology team at Shain Library understands the situation and has implemented an OER program to ease the burden that students have to undertake.
Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials distributed at no cost and that have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, texts, software, and other materials. In other words, instead of professors forcing their students to buy an expensive textbook that could cost an upwards of $150, professors can choose OER material (s) for their courses which will make the course materials free for their students.
The Research Support and Curricular Technology team have initiated a new grant program to encourage OER materials at Connecticut College. The OER Grant program provides financial assistance and incentive for faculty to adopt OER materials. An OER Grant is available to all teaching faculty (full-time, part-time, lecturer, and visiting) at Connecticut College. Individuals, teams, Pathways, and departments/programs are encouraged to work together for a unified adoption of OER.
The grant aims to reduce educational costs for students by providing free or low-cost learning materials that are available from day one of their classes. The cost of tuition is nearly $70,000 and financial aid spending has increased 3.4 percent at Connecticut College since 2017. In the 2018 New Camel Survey, almost two-thirds of the class expressed concern about their ability to finance their college education. This program will support Connecticut College’s strategic priority toward financial strength and explore new ways to make a Connecticut College education affordable.
The grant provides funding and support for pedagogical innovation. Open educational materials can be tailored to fit the needs of Connecticut College students and allow students to be active participants in the process of course content creation. In addition, OER expands academic freedom, giving faculty copyright-free options to produce personalized learning materials to meet the specific needs of our students at our institution. Faculty are untethered from the rigid structures and content produced by textbook publishers.
For more information see the libguide Open Educational Resources at Connecticut College (https://conncoll.libguides.com/OER) or visit the Research Support and Curricular Technology team on the second floor of Shain.