Open Educational Resources

U Georgia Nears $2 million Mark in OER Savings

The University of Georgia estimated that it has saved students $2 million through the adoption of open educational resources (OER) since 2013. According to Edward Watson, director of the university's Center for Teaching and Learning, "Our approach has been to pursue large enrollment courses using expensive textbooks. This has enabled us to maximize savings for students."

The institution has worked with Affordable Learning Georgia, a partnership the University System of Georgia has with California State University, which manages MERLOT, a venerable OER library of resources.

The Affordable Learning site provides a list of the most-enrolled system undergraduate courses, especially those that make up the core curriculum, which consists of courses required during the first two years of college for a given degree. The intent of the list is to help instructors replaced textbooks and other materials with "no-cost" alternatives. The offerings cull from MERLOT, as well as OpenStax College and eCore.

However, not all of the courses — "Abnormal Psychology," "Introduction to Film," "Medical Terminology" — have OER options. Eighteen groups of courses include a link to a "make a recommendation" form; another 21 suggest alternatives but also request additional recommendations.

U Georgia's OER Web site includes a current list of courses, along with the number of students who are taking it during a given school year and the cost savings they're enjoying by not having to buy commercial materials.

The site quoted one education student who earlier this year said, "The reading materials for this course were AMAZING. I'm not just saying that because I didn't have to pay for a textbook (although that was nice) but because I could be certain what I was reading was both relevant and the best source of information for the topic we were discussing. I was extremely grateful for this form of reading."

Another noted, "The instructor realizes that not everybody can afford a textbook, so she is giving everybody an equal opportunity to succeed."

In total over the last three years 21,536 students have not had to purchase a textbook for a savings of $1.97 million.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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