The cost of attending college in the United States is higher than ever but Kishwaukee College is working to combat it. Many Kish faculty are eliminating and lowering textbook fees for selected courses through the use of open educational resources and inclusive access materials.
Open education resources (OER) refers to educational resources available to educators or students without royalties or license fees; an OER has a unique license that allows for reproduction, and even adaptation, without obtaining permission from the copyright holder. Examples of available resources include everything from textbooks to videos and podcasts.
Inclusive access (IA) materials are digital course materials made available through the College’s Learning Management System. Students pay the cost of IA materials up front, when they register for classes, and have access to their materials online. IA materials are significantly cheaper than commercial textbooks purchased after the semester begins.
As of 2018, 21 unique Kish courses (and multiple sections of each course) use OER or IA materials. During the Fall 2018 semester, Kish students saved $52,246 through the use of OER and IA materials versus traditional, commercial textbooks. Classes that utilize OER and IA materials at Kish include Biology, Business, Criminal Justice, Engineering, Math, Marketing & Management, Psychology, and Sociology. “I’m saving over $100 for my Sociology book through OER,” said Kish sophomore, Karli Miller of Mount Morris, who found the same SOC 170 book available for over $250 at a national bookstore retailer.
The dramatic cost savings isn’t the only advantage of using OER and IA materials. OER and IA textbooks allow students to access an e-book version of the textbook on the first day of class. If the student wants a physical copy, they can have it printed in-house at the College for significantly less money than a traditional commercial textbook. Kish student, Whitney Brace of Sycamore, noted the convenience of receiving her IA materials for her MATH 098 course, “It was one less book I had to worry about getting from the Bookstore and was taken care of through my financial aid.”
Another advantage of IA materials is the cost for the book is included in course fees. Jessica Anderson, Assistant Marketing Director and Bookstore Manager at Kish explained, “Students can use Financial Aid to pay for their books in the Kish Bookstore, but they cannot use a payment plan there. Since, IA books are charged with tuition, the students can have access to their materials while paying their balance down with the College payment plan.”
Additionally, OER and IA materials are offered in online format, which is popular among college-age students. Hannah Ferguson of Genoa, a freshman at Kish, uses a digital book in her math class. “I find it extremely beneficial to have the inclusive access book because it is easier to use when [my] homework is linked online,” she said, noting the convenience of digital assignments versus paper materials. She elaborated, “I never even need to open the physical textbook.” Assistant Professor of Psychology at Kish, Paula Stroud, brought up an additional important benefit of the online format, “OERs are more accessible for students with a wide range of disabilities.”
Lastly, the quality of learning is not decreased by using these alternative resources. Tim Lockman, Instruction Librarian & Instructional Designer at Kish, acknowledged the research in this area is relatively new and it’s hard to make claims about OER versus traditional textbooks. However, he continued, “I think it’s fair to say that, generally speaking, open textbooks are not inferior to traditional textbooks when it comes to educational results.”
Kish faculty began implementing OER in 2017 and will continue to expand use of OER and IA in the future. Jessica Anderson elaborated, “We consistently aim to reduce student barriers to success. The faculty is focused on exploring new delivery methods while keeping an eye on quality and positive student outcomes.”
As college costs continue to rise, Kish is looking at a variety of ways to make higher education affordable for students. Reducing textbook costs is one of the College’s annual goals and implementing OERs and IAs are one of the ways Kish is doing so.
For more information, contact Jessica Anderson, Assistant Marketing Director and Bookstore Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.