These case studies from PASCAL member institutions highlight their efforts to promote open education and reduce students’ costs.
Our thanks to Affordable Learning Task Force Members April Akins (Lander University), Amie Freeman (University of South Carolina), Ron Stafford (Northeastern Technical College), and Yang Wu (Clemson University) for contributing these case studies.
Yang Wu, Open Resources Librarian at Clemson University, discusses the different aspects of Clemson University’s Open Education Program including current strategies and components to promote OERs on campus and his future plans for the program.
Affordable Learning Lander has been in place since Spring 2018. The Jackson Library has taken the opportunity to promote affordable learning solutions to faculty at Lander since the inception of the SCALE initiative. In the early days of our efforts, we presented at a faculty meeting to promote the use of open educational resources, library resources, and our course reserve services and to share with faculty ways they could make their courses more affordable.
With the introduction of SCALE’s Professor for Affordable Learning (PAL) award, faculty began applying and receiving the award pretty quickly. Currently, Lander has over 50 faculty members and instructors who have received this honor. The library recognizes PAL award recipients at faculty meetings to express our thanks to these faculty members for their efforts. The library has a robust guide on its homepage to help faculty members find, adopt, and create open educational resources.
Librarian April Akins serves on the Affordable Learning Task Force and is currently serving as the chair elect. In this role, she was invited to Clemson University to speak on behalf of SCALE to help celebrate Open Access Week. Along with others on the taskforce, April presented a poster at the Southeastern Library Association / South Carolina Library Association joint conference. April has made two guest appearances on Lander’s EdTech podcast to promote awareness of affordable learning solutions and provide easy ways for faculty to get started adopting open educational resources. (The podcasts can be listened to using these links: Three things with April Akins and Ditching that expensive textbook.)
Throughout the awareness campaign, the library has hosted drop in workshops and one on one consultations to help faculty explore what is available in their specific disciplines. Other ways the library has given the initiative a space to shine is through articles in the Index Journal (the local newspaper), Lakelands schools push free alternatives to costly textbooks and Use of open educational resources grow at Greenwood institutions as well as the Lander Magazine (Lander’s Alumni publication).
Over the summer, April was selected with several other task force members to attend the Open Textbook Network Summer Institute and Summit. This opportunity allowed April to network with others in the OTN community to help support the library’s efforts.
In November 2019, library staff attended one of the Open Textbook Network workshops hosted by PASCAL, as part of our efforts to work with faculty who want to review open educational resources. The library is in the early stages of finding ways it can support faculty who want to remix and create open educational resources.
Faculty outreach has been instrumental in Lander University’s Affordable Learning Initiative. Pictured, left, is a flier from a faculty drop-in event.
Professor Mark Knockemus, Instructor of English and Religion at Northeastern Technical College, talks about what brought him to using Open Educational Resources (OER) in his English class and how he has expanded that into his other classes. He also talks about why he believes that OER is beneficial to both the professor and students and ways that faculty could work together to create new OER.
The University of South Carolina Libraries has provided free access to course materials for over a century. Records dating back to 1912 document the Libraries purchasing and making available course materials for students. In 2008, a formal course reserves textbook program was started in response to a Student Government initiative, placing at least one copy of each assigned textbook on reserve for every course with over one hundred students enrolled. In addition, the Libraries support streaming films and an electronic reserves service to make course content available through UofSC’s learning management system, Blackboard.
Alongside these traditional course material services, the University Libraries has been active in promoting the use of open educational resources, or OER, to instructors since 2015. In partnership with Student Government, the Libraries created an award to facilitate faculty adoption of OER and other no-cost materials, such as library-licensed content. This initiative, affectionately named the SCoer Award, offers faculty a stipend for attending a librarian-led workshop and then transitioning to a course completely free of textbook costs over an academic year. This award has led to upfront cost-savings of over $384,000 for students.
Beyond offering the SCoer Award, librarians have been leaders in supporting the use of OER across campus. Librarians have hosted workshops and spoken at several significant gatherings and events, ranging from Faculty Senate meetings to a Provost’s Retreat. The Libraries have hosted Open Education Week events annually since 2017, gathering students and faculty through a variety of approaches to discuss textbook affordability and opportunities to remove costs and other success barriers associated with traditional course materials.
In collaboration with Student Government, the Libraries support a ‘Professors for Student Affordability’ distinction to recognize instructors teaching classes that do not require students to purchase course materials. Recipients are listed on the Libraries’ OER LibGuide and receive a personalized letter of thanks from the Student Body President. There are currently 37 instructors who have been recognized as a Professor for Student Affordability.
The Libraries additionally offer a syllabus review service to assist instructors interested in investigating open and freely available course materials. Upon request, a librarian will perform a preliminary review of alternative materials that may be compatible with the existing course curriculum.
Finally, UofSC Libraries are involved in PASCAL’s Affordable Learning initiative, SCALE. Two UofSC librarians serve as members of the taskforce, contributing time and expertise to statewide programs designed to promote and build services surrounding affordable learning.
The outreach and participation of UofSC Libraries created significant cost-savings for students. As of December 2019, UofSC students have saved over a million dollars through the use of OER and other no-cost course materials.
Above are photos from some of the University of South Carolina Libraries Affordable Learning programs. From left to right: A display recognizing faculty who participated in the Textbook Hero program; a display of OpenStax textbooks; a display of student comments about the cost of textbooks.