Students at Fort Lewis College will increasingly benefit from open educational resources offered free online that replace often-costly textbooks with the assistance of a $31,000 grant from the state.
“I’m really excited about this. I’m a believer in helping students keep costs down. Textbooks can cost anywhere from $20 to $250. They can be really expensive,” said Astrid Oliver, director of Reed Library. Oliver is coordinating the grant.
The funds came from the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and were part of $1 million in grants disbursed to 34 separate higher education and post-secondary universities, colleges, schools and educational groups across the state.
It’s similar to another grant FLC received last year to encourage use of open educational resources, which are free resources published online by professors at institutions across the country under an open license that don’t require payment for their use.
Last school year, 2,158 students used free, open educational resources that replaced a textbook in class, Oliver said. She estimated the students saved a total of $240,000 by replacing textbooks with open educational resources in the 2018-19 school year.
The grants fund stipends to faculty members who create their own open educational resources online for their own use and the use of other faculty members in institutions across the country. Stipends will also go to faculty members who are searching for appropriate open educational resources already existing online to adapt for their own use in their FLC classes.
The faculty stipends range from $750 to individual professors to as much as $6,000 to whole departments that trade in textbooks for open-educational-resource material.
Reed Library already has one librarian who is tasked with helping faculty members locate online resources that can replace textbooks.
“It’s been happening on campus in a quiet way for a while, but this grant allows us to increase our efforts and take it to the next level,” Oliver said.