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Have you ever thought that some students drop courses due to textbook prices? How many students do you think do this every semester? To avoid high costs, students resort to used books, so publishers respond with frequently updated editions, and students start renting text books, buying photocopies of books, simply not buying textbooks, and generally giving us every indication that they simply aren’t willing to pay what textbooks cost.

To help avoid this problem the practice of designing for affordable learning is emerging and open educational resources (OER) have arisen to help make learning more affordable.

65% of students said that they had decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive. (Fixing the Broken Textbook Market)

Faced with the prospect of paying several hundred dollars for a single textbook, some students may choose not to buy. (Triaging Textbook Costs)

I am Sharon and recently joined the CII as an instructional designer. I graduated from University of Georgia with my Ph.D. where my research focused on the use of OER in higher ed. Particularly, I conducted my dissertation research in multiple introductory statistics courses. In these courses I collected simulations from 12 OER repositories and used them in face-to-face class sessions in order to help students understand abstract statistics concepts. ANOVA simulation

For example, the Visual Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) collected in Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) is an interactive site that visually demonstrates how variability between and within experimental groups contributes to the F ratio in the Analysis of Variance. Some other simulations relate to correlation and linear regression also help explain abstract concepts in a visual way. These items are not particularly well suited to a traditional textbook, but they work great on a website. In addition, I also worked with one instructor to customize an OER statistics textbook for his online courses. From reordering book chapters and checking the accuracy of book contents, we made the book exactly what was wanted for the students. Then this book was freely shared with each student – no rental return date, no sharing with their classmates – it was just theirs, the way textbooks should be.

OER has brought several advantages to teaching and learning, including openness and customization. Users can freely share, reuse, and reproduce OER without violating copyright laws. Multiple collections of OER allow users to have alternative options to enrich individual learning experiences. Several OER repositories such as MERLOT allow users to search and download these resources for reuse or reproduction purposes. Other groups like Lumen Learning, and the forthcoming BBookX are helping to make this more accessible for instructors in the future. Now, CII also helps faculty design and develop OER such as open textbooks. Come to visit us and share your thoughts about OER used in your courses.

82% of students felt they would do significantly better in a course if the textbook was available free online and buying a hard copy was optional. (Fixing the Broken Textbook Market)