What we’re reading about OPEN:


Florida Virtual Campus Office of Distance Learning and Student Services conducted a large-scale study in 2018 to examine textbook affordability and the associated implications. Among the many key findings, notably the cost of textbooks negatively impacts student access to required materials and learning. The top 5 highest percentage answers as a result of the high cost of textbooks are: not purchasing the required textbook (64%); taking fewer courses (43%); not registering for a specific course (41%); earning a poor grade (36%); and dropping a course (23%). 

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The 2020 Bayview Analytics and WCET report on OER suggests that while faculty and institutions have shown increasing awareness and acceptance of OER, “many remain unfamiliar with what they are, or how to utilize them.”

  • Faculty who are aware of one or more OER initiatives are much more likely to be adopters of OER. This holds true for both faculty teaching introductory-level courses and the general population of faculty.
  • When implemented at the institutional level, OER initiatives result in a measurable rise in the number of faculty who are aware of OER.
  • Faculty who are aware of OER are much more likely to adopt OER as required course materials; those who have yet to adopt OER are much more likely to do so in the future.
  • The impact of awareness of OER initiatives on adoption remains consistent across types of institutions (two- and four-year), the level of course being taught, and across regional compacts in the U.S.

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A recent study by Colvard, Watson & Park (2018) found that “… OER adoption does much more than simply save students money and address student debt concerns. OER improve end-of-course grades and decrease DFW (D, F, and Withdrawal letter grades) rates for all students. They also improve course grades at greater rates and decrease DFW rates at greater rates for Pell recipient students, part-time students, and populations historically underserved by higher education.”  

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Inclusive access

Like OER, inclusive access models aim to ensure that all students have access to their learning materials on day one of class, but the major difference is that OER are free and inclusive access is not. Colleges and universities sign inclusive access contracts with publishing companies that then add the materials cost directly to the student’s tuition bill, also known as “automatic textbook billing.” In February 2020, U.S. PIRG Education Fund reviewed 31 of these such contracts across the country affecting more than 700,000 students and issued a report revealing a significant amount of the contracts “fail to deliver real savings for students, reduce faculty and student choice, and give even more power to a handful of big publishing companies.” 

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