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CNM Saving Students Thousands by Being a Leader in Offering Free, Open Resource Textbooks

May 23, 2017 -- More and more CNM faculty members are opting to use free online Open Educational Resources (OER) – free learning materials used in courses that can save students hundreds of dollars on publisher’s textbooks.
CNM Saving Students Thousands by Being a Leader in Offering Free, Open Resource Textbooks

May 23, 2017

OERs are free and openly-licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research and other purposes. They include textbooks, images, videos, websites and more. Free online textbooks meet scope and sequence requirements for most courses, and they are peer-reviewed and created, edited and updated by instructors.

Many OERs are published by universities. Some examples are Rice University (OpenStax.org), University of Minnesota, University of Georgia and the University of Michigan.

Dr. Kat Flies, a faculty member in the School of Math, Science & Engineering, proposed that CNM join the worldwide OER initiative three years ago when she was a Presidential Fellow for Instructional Technology, noting that many CNM students have financial challenges that often cause them to delay or stop their pursuit of a degree or certificate. In addition, there is a continuing move towards more mobile technology in the classroom.

According to a report provided to Dr. Flies by OpenStax, a major OER supplier, 33 instructors at CNM used OpenStax books in the fall and spring of 2016-17.

“The CNM Department of Biology and Biotechnology has adopted the mostly-free textbooks, but other sciences – Chemistry, Physics, Economics, Sociology, Math and History – are using them as well,” Dr. Flies said.

There are also many instructors who depend on other free textbooks. For instance, instructors in the School of Adult & General Education (SAGE) used free online books not affiliated with OpenStax in 37 sections of Integrated Reading and Writing (IRW 0970), and two instructors who teach English 1101 and 1102 recently introduced a free online textbook that they created themselves.

“OpenStax reported that about 4,200 CNM students used OpenStax books in the fall and spring of 2016-17, which translates to well over $400,000 in possible savings for our students based on the going rate of new traditional textbooks,” Dr. Flies said.

She noted that the free online textbooks are becoming popular because they have many advantages over traditional hardback textbooks.

“The obvious advantage is that they are free,” Dr. Flies noted. “In addition, they are always accessible on the internet and in different formats – pdf, web, iBook -- so they can be viewed any time and on any device. Some free textbooks even come in special formats for students with disabilities.”