Kicking off Open Access Week with Affordable Learning Georgia

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Open Access Week begins today and runs through October 26.  This international event helps scholars and researchers spread the word about open access to scholarly articles, open data, and open educational resources. In celebration, the GSU library will be blogging about open access each day this week.  We’re kicking off the celebration today by blogging about the Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG) initiative.

Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG) promotes the use of open textbooks, open educational resources, and other affordable alternatives in order to make college more affordable and to improve student success.

The cost of textbooks and other course materials can be prohibitive for students. Textbook prices have increased by 82% since 2002. Currently, The College Board estimates that students need about $1200 per year for books and other course materials. The U.S. PIRG Education Fund & The Student PIRGs recently surveyed students and found that 65% of the students had decided not to purchase a textbook because it was too expensive. Students who did this were concerned about the effect on their grades.  Additionally, almost 50% of students surveyed reported that the cost of textbooks impacted how many and which classes they took each semester.

Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG) began to address these concerns by providing resources and support for the adoption of open or more affordable course materials.  First, the ALG website was designed with a plethora of resources, information, and tools.  Next, a Library Coordinator and a Campus Champion was assigned to each University System of Georgia institution to provide in-person support for locating and adapting resources and for course redesign. If you are an instructor here at GSU who is interested in implementing open or more affordable resources into your course, please contact your Library Coordinator, Denise Dimsdale or your Campus Champion, George Pullman. ALG is also sponsoring grants to provide for release time and expenses. Thirty grants were awarded for implementation in the Spring 2014 semester.  Another round of grants will be announced in January for implementation in the Fall 2015 semester.

In the 2014 school year, open or more affordable course material alternatives are calculated to save students in the University System of Georgia over one million dollars.  You can see the break down in this chart. However, ALG is about more than saving money.  A growing body of literature is showing a relationship between open course materials, GPAs, retention, and completion rates. In summer 2013, implementation of an open textbook in the USG’s HIST2110 ecore class showed a 6% increase in retention from the previous semester prior to open text implementation.  Additionally, successful completion, meaning a grade of A, B, or C, rose 28% from the previous semester prior to open text implementation.  Other schools have also seen positive results. The Virginia State University business school saw 30-40% higher GPAs in their OER pilot program. Read more about these and other outcomes here.

For an extensive list of articles and other resources, take a look at the ALG’s OER Research Collection.

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