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Saving students money: OER initiative reaches new milestone

May 11, 2022

MSU Food processing labA Delta College initiative to save students money and provide free access to course materials has reached a new milestone.

Since 2016, Delta’s Open Educational Resources initiative has saved students a total of $1 million in textbook costs. OER are textbooks and other course materials that are licensed Creative Commons and are freely available online to use, share and modify.

Michele Pratt, manager of Library Programs and Services and OER Committee co-chair, said the effort began to help with student success. Students saved more than $142,000 during the winter 2022 semester alone.

“We know that a lot of students are financially constrained and one of the things they cut is textbooks,” Pratt said. “They often don’t realize they need a textbook until it’s too late. With OER, everyone has a textbook from day one of class because it’s free and online.”

Laura Dull, professor of history and Committee co-chair, said OER is a national movement.

“The textbooks are written for faculty by faculty,” Dull said. “Housing the course materials online allows faculty from across the country the freedom to adapt the course readings and textbooks from year to year, making it more relevant and timelier for students.”

The OER initiative at Delta is a campus collaboration that includes representatives from the academic divisions, Bookstore and Student and Educational Services. Delta is a member of the Open Education Network and coordinates efforts with Michigan Colleges Online.

Early adopters

Sociology was the first discipline to adopt the use of open educational resources at Delta. It began with Donna Giuliani, professor of sociology, and expanded to include a group of faculty members that wrote textbooks for several sociology classes.

Giuliani said the ability to modify textbook content to her students’ interests is especially appealing.

“We can look at things from a macro and micro lens,” Giuliani said. “For example, we can look at global poverty and stratification, and then bring it all the way down to the local area, so I can keep things relevant in the textbooks year after year.”

Today, Dull said, about 65 faculty members from science and math to criminal justice and psychology are using OER, and that number is increasing every semester.

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Written by Leah Twilley, Communications Specialist.