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Bay Path Students Save Over $100,000.00 This Year with Open Educational Resources

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The cost of a college education has become a hot-button issue, prompting many conversations between educators and administrators as to how to make strides in combating the ever-increasing expense of earning a degree. In response, Bay Path’s Vision 2019 highlighted cost-effectiveness as a University priority, which has sparked the development of programs across our campuses to positively impact students across all of our populations.  One of these efforts is the use of Open Educational Resources (OER).

Rachel Baum, eLearning Librarian, and OER Coordinator joined the University’s library staff in early 2017 specifically to launch our Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative under the leadership of Ann Dobmeyer, JD, Dean, Division of Research and Academic Resources.

“Since the 1960's, textbook costs have increased by 945%! Compare that to the consumer price index, which increased by 262%, and you can see the problem. The average student pays about $2,000 annually for their textbooks,” Baum said. “There is a lot of talk about access and persistence  in higher education, and one of the most practical ways to see immediate, and positive  shifts  in these areas is by reducing or eliminating the cost of textbooks. Educators have realized that the only way to bring down the cost is to create alternatives to the big publishers, who have monopolized the market for decades.”

Since starting last April, Baum has worked with individual professors across disciplines to reduce or eliminate the cost of textbooks in their courses. Doing so ranges from finding a complete eBook replacement or even getting rid of a single textbook entirely, choosing instead to pull content from many different sites and resources both online and via Hatch Library.

“Our end goal is always the same: save students money without sacrificing the quality of the content used in the classroom,” Baum said. “One of the most exciting things I found out is that a lot of our faculty are actually already using low or no-cost textbooks in their courses, so I have also dedicated a lot of time to researching and recording this to make sure we can see how much money OER is saving our students, giving our faculty members the credit they deserve for being a part of this initiative.”

To date, Baum’s collaborative efforts with professors have saved students at the undergraduate and graduate levels a total of $120,453: $52,000 in textbook costs by accessing free or low-cost course materials in the fall 2017 semester, and a staggering $67,000 this spring.

And according to Baum, students are responding in an overwhelmingly positive way. When surveyed, they provided the following feedback about their experience using OER:

  • I didn’t have to carry around multiple books, keeping my backpack light. 
  • It was a lot easier to find the information. 
  • [I liked] being able to experience stuff on my iPad that I didn’t know before.

More information about the initiative, including the implementation process and testimonials from students, can be found the Division of Research and Academic Resources website.