Some faculty members at Salt Lake Community College have joined the movement for accessible, affordable learning.
Open educational resources provide free teaching and learning materials such as textbooks, courses and lectures. The increasing popularity of open content is gaining the approval of many college instructors.
Sociology professor Dan Poole is one of multiple SLCC faculty who embrace OER.
“I struggle sometimes assigning $150 textbook to students at the community college who are scraping to get into classes in general and pay tuition,” Poole tells Utah OER.
Poole says another benefit of OER is the ease of access, saying “I can assign an OER material for the course and everyone has it day one.”
Despite the technical and financial advantages for students and professors, OER could pose a big threat to the revenue gained from textbook sales.
The National Association of College Stores reports that a bookstore receives an average of 6.3 cents for every dollar spent on textbooks. Although this is a small percentage, college bookstores generate an average of $223,691 in revenue for their institutions.
BYU adjunct faculty and Creative Commons education fellow David Wiley says in his blog that bookstores can capitalize on this emerging platform by offering a print-on-demand service for OER instead of commercial textbooks. Since open content has no publisher and no licenses, bookstores can save on the shipping, staffing and printing expenses that come with traditional textbooks.
By adding up the costs, Wiley finds that “the college bookstore actually makes more pre-tax profit on the $18 print-on-demand open textbook than they do on the $150 publisher biology book.” As a result, bookstores that provide OER pass on tremendous savings to students.
Anyone who wants to learn more about OER courses and materials can visit OER Commons for more information.