Project to lower textbook costs at CSU gets a $75,000 boost

Books at the Morgan Library

Gov. Jared Polis’ administration recently announced nearly $1 million in support for 20 projects designed to lower textbook costs and improve student success at 35 institutions of higher education — including Colorado State University.

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education has awarded CSU $75,000 to support a project to lower textbook costs in high enrollment courses with an increased focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

The grant has been administered to CSU Libraries, and will be distributed through targeted outreach to departments, rather than a general call as in previous years, though this could change if funds are left over.

Projects will be evaluated on criteria such as: enrollment, drop/withdraw/fail rates, cost savings potential, and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice. GT Pathways courses will be heavily weighted.

Support from CSU Libraries

The CSU Libraries will provide support to instructors through workshops and consultations. Workshops are expected to cover topics such as general overviews of open educational resources, Creative Commons licensing in open publishing, and contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion.

This is the fourth year CSU has received funding from CCHE to support open educational resources, or OER. To date, CSU has received $186,000 and internally funded a total of 35 mini-grants to faculty to adapt, adopt or create open materials for their courses.

“The cost savings for students have been a huge return on investment,” said Meg Brown-Sica, associate dean of research and engagement at CSU Libraries, who also serves on Colorado’s OER Council. “In addition to improving affordability, OER also enhance student success. Students can get access to textbooks from day one of classes instead of waiting until they can afford them, and instructors are empowered to freely adapt and customize learning materials for each class’s needs.”

Cost savings

Thanks to these OER projects at CSU, hundreds of students save thousands of dollars each semester on textbook costs, in courses from art and composition to microbiology and computer science. In one 80-student microbiology class, a $250 textbook was replaced with an open textbook online. The change saves students a total of $20,000 per class.

The grant reflects a growing movement on campus to make CSU more affordable and close equity gaps in student success through open educational resources.

“We believe that open educational resources are a crucial component to affordability of education, student success, and access to life-long learning,” Provost and Executive Vice President Mary Pedersen said. “We are thrilled to be a part of Colorado’s open educational resources initiative.”

Open Educational Resources Committee

A newly formed Open Educational Resources Committee will help chart a path forward to expand the adoption, adaptation and creation of open educational resources at CSU:

OER Committee Members

  • Meg Brown-Sica, chair, CSU Libraries
  • Dan Baker, College of Engineering
  • Ryan Barone, Office of the Provost
  • Desiree Bautista, Office of Engagement & Extension, CSU Online
  • Kurt Kaiser, CSU Bookstore (Advisory)
  • Stan Kruse, The Institute for Learning and Teaching
  • Julia Murphy, Office of Enrollment & Access
  • Christine Pawliuk, CSU Libraries
  • Kathy Sisneros, Office of Inclusive Excellence
  • James Wilson, College of Natural Sciences