The high cost of commercial print textbooks is a major concern for both students and their parents. Data shows that the cost of textbooks affects the academic choices and success of students. If textbooks are prohibitively expensive, students will resort to cost-saving measures such as: buying outdated editions, sharing a copy with classmates, obtaining illegal copies online, or not purchasing them at all. The cost of textbooks can sometimes result in students dropping a course or changing majors. This creates a potential barrier for student success. Fortunately, there is an alternative: open educational resources, or OER. OER are cost-free textbooks and teaching materials that are released with an open license, which allows them to be used, shared, and revised by any instructor in the world.
To facilitate this global movement, the UMass Amherst Libraries created the Open Education Initiative (OEI) in 2011. The OEI gives small grants to instructors who wish to flip their classes from expensive textbooks to open educational resources. Since 2011, the OEI has generated a total savings of over $1.8 million for UMass Amherst students.
The Open Education Initiative at UMass Amherst aims to:
- Encourage the development of alternatives to high-cost textbooks by supporting the adoption, adaptation, or creation of Open Educational Resources (OER).
- Lower the cost of college for students in order to contribute to success.
- Encourage faculty to engage in new models for classroom instruction.
What Your Support Can Do
By supporting the Open Education Initiative Gift Fund, the Libraries will be able to support more faculty in their transition to openly-licensed, free teaching materials, which in turn will support our students. When faculty adopt or create free openly-licensed, textbooks, web tools, and platforms, students save on average of $100 per class. If one class of 300 students utilizes OER, that class will save $30,000. Imagine offering a $30,000 scholarship for the lifetime of a class. Supporting the Open Educational Resources Initiative will do just that.