An initiative for all students to have access to free online textbooks was created at SRU after evaluating money spent annually on textbooks
Bradley Wilson, the associate provost for transformational experiences said that this initiative is called “Open Educational Resource,” better known as OER. He said that the idea of it is to make instructional materials free for all students. He also mentioned that many courses are already utilizing OER for Youtube videos and websites for instructional use that are freely available to students.
Wilson said that textbooks are the main instructional resource used by faculty in the classroom.
“We are interested in helping with student affordability by supporting faculty as they learn about what is available to adapt to use in courses,” Wilson said.
He said that students spend on average anywhere from $1,200-$1,400 annually on textbooks alone. He went on to say that college is expensive and textbooks are extra, aside from tuition and all of the other fees. Wilson said that textbooks can be a burden to some students.
“This is about being aware of the affordability-divide barrier to student success,” Wilson said.
He said that with OER, students would have access to their textbooks from the start of the semester.
“Some students hold off on buying textbooks because of student loan delays or because they wait to see if they will actually use the book for the class,” Wilson said.
He said that if there are books out there online with the same quality as the expensive ones, that it would be very positive for students.
“We plan to work to raise awareness and really engage faculty in this process,” Wilson said.
He said that faculty members will not be forced to adapt, but they do want the faculty to understand how this could potentially benefit their classes and their students.
Wilson said that the timeline for the program begins in the spring semester of 2019, where they will provide support to interested faculty.
“There is not one single place to find all the textbooks, so the library faculty can help professors know where to look,” Wilson said.
By next fall, Wilson said that they hope to have the program freely available to make a positive impact on student success.