Use of Open Educational Resources eliminates textbook costs for students

By Karen Vignare, Megan Benefiel, and Katrice Hawthorne

The adoption of open education resources (OERs) is part of a comprehensive effort to address concerns of student access, affordability, and success. UMUC, in less than a two-year time frame, adopted no cost materials for all its undergraduate courses. In order to achieve this aggressive goal, a team comprised of subject matter experts, instructional designers, and librarians identified and located appropriate OERs for each course. The process of locating and evaluating OERs began with analysis of each course’s stated learning outcomes.

When the necessary resources were identified, a complex review process was performed for each and every resource. This review included ensuring that the resources were (1) aligned with UMUC’s standards for course design and quality assurance, (2) ADA compliant, and (3) available for distribution and use at at no cost to students. Using OERs often required adapting multiple pieces of content to best suit the needs of a course. This process created highly vetted and focused resources for our students.

Next, the OER team worked to fill any remaining gaps between the selected OER and the course outcomes. Gaps were filled by developing content in-house or supplementing OERs with library or external resources. Finally, to ensure that resources were optimized for student success, a programming and production team revised and formatted each resource to enable alignment with UMUC’s learning-management system.

Our preliminary results from a sampling of 92 courses indicated that failure and withdrawal rates decreased by 1.83 percent after adoption of OERs while course completion rates and grade distributions before and after adoption of OERs did not differ.  The estimated cost savings for UMUC students exceeds five million dollars. The transition to OERS did not diminish learning or completion rates, and saved students millions of dollars of out-of-pocket costs for textbooks.

— OER Global Logo by Jonathas Mello is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Unported 3.0 License

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