Bureau of Labor Statistics: interactive graph shows 87.5% cost increase for college textbooks 2006-2016

The Economics Daily of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has an informative interactive graph of consumer price indexes for tuition and school frees from January 2006-July 2016.  While tuition and fees have risen 63 percent, college textbooks have risen 87.5%. See the graph and data at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/college-tuition-and-fees-increase-63-percent-since-january-2006.htm

Amazon Jumps into Digital Ed Resource Business; Starts with OER

OER is becoming more mainstream with Amazon expanding into the OER market.

Amazon has expanded its footing in the education arena with a new service that allows teachers to search for, curate, share, review and access digital resources for use in the classroom. The program is intended to help reduce the amount of time teachers spend online hunting down learning materials for their students.


Link to full article

Go Open, Go Free Using OER begins May 16 at Leeward

For a second year in a row, the Leeward CC Educational Media Center and the Library are facilitating a week long OER training at the annual Pacific Region Learning Summit on Leeward’s Pearl City campus .  The Go Open, Go Free Using OER track provides faculty with an intensive introduction to OER. Participants learn the benefits of adopting OERs, where to find them, how to license and attribute them, and how to share OERs in the UH OER repository. Throughout the week and beyond, individualized support is provided by Leeward instructional designers and librarians.

The ability to reduce higher education costs for students continues to be the main motivating factor for Leeward CC faculty switching from expensive commercial publisher materials to OERs.  In the process of transitioning to OER, faculty discover the benefits to adoption can go far beyond just the cost savings. The flexibility inherent in OERs offers them an opportunity to transform their teaching and free themselves from the restrictions and limitations of the traditional textbook model. This is the true power and greatest potential of the OER movement today.

Textbook Cost: $0 FAQ

Wayde Oshiro head librarian of Leeward Community College posted a great FAQ about the Textbook Cost: $0 note that you may see in some campus Class Availability lists. Leeward, Kapiolani, and Honoulu Community Colleges are posting this information for courses that faculty have identified as Textbook Cost: $0. This is great information for students and is one piece in making higher education more affordable for students.

OER and Student Success

Recent studies show that Open Educational Resources (OER) may have an impact on student success. The UHCC has adopted OER as a strategy to support student success by reducing educational costs for students. In step with national trends, a Spring 2015 survey of students at Leeward CC revealed that fifty-five percent of the 987 respondents had chosen, at least once, not to purchase a required textbook due to cost. A 2014 Babson OER report showed that cost is the least important factor when faculty select teaching resources; proven efficacy is the most important factor for faculty.  The report also shows that 73.4% of the faculty feel OER is either superior or equivalent in quality to traditional resources.  Based on recent studies, it appears that OERs have a positive impact on student completion, retention, and achievement.

Kapiolani CC Librarians, Susan Kazama and Sunyeen Pai, and Leeward CC Librarian, Wayde Oshiro, shared the results of recent studies examining the impact of OER and student success with attendees at the 7th Hawaii Strategy Institute on March 4-5 at Kapiolani Community College.   A list of the referenced studies is available at the end of the presentation.

Open Educational Resources and Student Success


New Student PIRGs report on the impact of textbook costs in higher education

Covering the Cost (report by Student PIRGs)A new Student PIRGs report (just posted February 3, 2016) looks at the financial impact of textbook costs on students ability to attain a post-secondary education.  From  Covering the Cost, key findings from a sample size of 4, 704 students from 132 schools in 26 states, include:

  • Almost one-third (30%) of students replied that they had used financial aid to pay for their textbooks.
  • For those that used financial aid, the amount of financial aid dollars they put toward purchasing textbooks was more than $300 on average per semester.
  • Textbook prices disproportionately impact community college students: 50% of students report using financial aid for books at community colleges, compared to 28% at 4 year public schools. And, on average, community college students use more financial aid than their peers at 4 year schools.

Survey of UH Faculty shows interest in Open Educational Resources

Here is the link to download the full report and/or the executive summary: OER & University of Hawaii Assessment Survey.

Beginning in the spring of 2014, the University of Hawaii (UH) Outreach College and the Information Technology Services joined efforts to promote the use, selection, and creation of OER across the UH System. Because the use of OER is still in the early stages, the University of Hawaii Open Educational Resources Team felt it was important to learn how and why instructional faculty and staff across the UH System wanted to interact with OER. Beth Tillinghast, librarian and project leader for ScholarSpace (our digital commons) created, distributed, and analyzed the survey, which was sent to UH faculty electronically in Spring 2015.

How OER is saving students money at Leeward CC

Leeward CC starts 2016 with 148 Textbook Cost: $0 classes with a combined enrollment of 2,643 students.   Estimated cost savings for students this semester is $131,334.

A Textbook Cost: $0 designation means that an instructor does not require students in their class to purchase textbooks, supplemental course materials, or access codes.  Faculty teaching a Textbook Cost: $0 class incorporate Open Educational Resources (OERs) and other freely available materials to replace costly commercial textbooks.  Leeward CC faculty use OpenStax and other OERs, library-purchased e-books and streaming videos, faculty-authored materials, and a variety of open web resources to use the Textbook Cost: $0 designation.

The money Leeward CC students are saving through the Textbook Cost: $0 program reduces the overall cost of their education. Students can immediately apply any cost savings towards their living expenses and it reduces the need for part-time jobs or having to work more hours.  Students can even use the savings to help pay for additional classes which potentially reduces time to completion.

Since Leeward CC faculty started replacing commercial textbooks with OERs and zero-cost resources students have saved nearly $300,000!

Leeward CC Textbook Cost: $0 Classes

Leeward CC Student Testimonials and Survey Results

Open Educational Resources @ Leeward CC website

Open Educational Resources @ Leeward CC

As part of Convocation activities two weeks ago at Leeward Community College, Wayde Oshiro (Head Librarian) and Leanne Riseley (Educational Media Center Coordinator) shared Leeward’s progress on the Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative. Here is a recap of the session highlights.

OER-@-Leeward-Convocation-2016-10zumjuLink to Presentation

Student Survey

Last Spring (May 2015), 987 Leeward students responded to a survey on their purchasing decisions for required course textbooks. Data from the survey showed that 55% chose NOT to purchase a required textbook for at least one of their classes. 58% said that the cost of required textbooks determined whether they took a course.

Student Benefits

One of the main benefits of OER for students has been to lower or eliminate their textbook costs. In this video, Leeward CC student Christina Kaleiwahea, describes how OER affects her financially as a full-time student who also works full-time.

ChristinaOER” by Christina Kaleiwahea

This semester, 150 Leeward classes (CRNs) were designated as “Textbook Cost: $0” in the class listing. Additionally, a No Cost Textbook page has been added to the campus website so students may easily access the information.

OER Fellowship Program

In Fall 2015, John Morton’s Office of the VP for Community Colleges awarded Leeward CC and Kapiolani CC $100,000 to further our OER campus initiatives. The initiative is being spearheaded by Wayde Oshiro and Leanne Riseley at Leeward and Sunny Pai and Susan Kazama at Kapiolani.

 The funding for the project has been roughly allocated as:

  • 60% capacity building for the Library and EMC/CELTT (student help)
  • 20% professional development
  • 20% incentives and marketing.

One of the outcomes of receiving the funding was it allowed the team to launch the OER Fellowship Program as a way to recognize faculty’s effort in implementing no-cost or OER in their course as well as to provide a small incentive to do so. The purpose of the program is to increase student success by promoting alternatives in educational resources and creating a community that actively encourages, supports, and sustains the use of no-cost or OER.

 The goals of the program are:

  1. Equip instructors with skills so they can properly integrate no-cost or OER materials into their class.
  2. Provide tools for instructors to assess no-cost or OER materials used in their class.
  3. Examine the impact on the use of no-cost or OER materials on students.
  4. Engage instructors in reflecting on the impact of using no-cost or OER materials in their teaching.
  5. Grow the number of OER champions who will advocate for adoption across the UHCC system.

Leeward/Kapiolani faculty and lecturers teaching at least one 3-credit course and those who completed the Go Open, Go Free Using OER Professional Development Training are eligible to participate in this program. The Go Open, Go Free Using OER was offered last summer as a track of Pacific Region Learning Summit (PRLS). It is being offered this semester as a 7-week flipped workshop series and will be offered again as a PRLS 2016 track this coming summer.

Faculty who choose to participate in the OER Fellowship Program work toward achievement or champion level according to this rubric. Upon completion, faculty are awarded technology in recognition of their accomplishment toward using and promoting the use of no-cost or OER.

OER Fellowship Participants at Leeward CC include P. Jayne Bopp (Sociology), Susan Wood (English), Ann Inoshita (English), Lani Uyeno (English), and Michelle Igarashi (English). Kelli Nakamura (Ethnic Studies) is participating from Kapiolani CC. We look forward to adding more to this list in the near future.

As part of the OER Fellowship Program, instructors encouraged their students at the end of the Fall 2015 semester to complete a survey. 125 students from five different Leeward classes participated in the survey. From that, we were able to draw some preliminary findings on the impact of OER on students.

94% said they saved money by the instructor adopting no-cost or OER resources


92% reported having access to a device and the Internet to access the resources.


87% felt the quality of the no-cost resources were just as good as a traditional textbook.


78% felt they did better in the course because they had access to the resources from the first day of class.


The most powerful part of the session was the sharing of reflections by Susan Wood (English), Ann Inoshita (English), and Jayne Bopp (Sociology). They shared their reflections on the impact of using no-cost or OER materials in their teaching. Below is a summary of their sharing:

Susan Wood

Share, what difference, if any, using open educational resources has made to your teaching.

1) I feel more in control of the material. When I used a traditional textbook, I had to teach whatever was in the chapters. I suppose I could have skipped parts of each chapter, but usually I would not since I felt obligated to use as much of the textbook as possible, so the students would feel like they were getting their money’s worth. With OER, I can adapt materials (as permitted by the license) so that I am including only the material I want to include. I have really enjoyed this part the most. 2) It’s much easier to adapt the course material to meet the needs of my students. If I see a number of students are struggling with some concept, I can modify material or add material or even delete material. Several times over this semester, I modified my course content to make it clearer based on feedback from students. While it is also possible to modify content when using a traditional textbook, for me it meant I needed to find some non-textbook resource to fill in where the textbook was not sufficient. 3) In the past, I was not able to use the textbook until at least the 2nd week of the semester since many students did not have the text until then. Now, we jump right into the course material and everyone has access.

Share comments students have made to you about using of OER.

My students have been very positive about OER. One student recently told me he bought a $100 textbook for a class, but they only used one chapter of it during the semester, so he was so glad he didn’t have to buy a book for ENG 100 as well– it offset the cost of the other textbook. This is an email I received from an online student: “I have completed the OER survey and have attached a screen shot from the completion page. I really appreciate not having to purchase a textbook for this class. Any money I can spend on my family instead of on a book I will use for five months is a good thing.” Here is another email: “I just finished the other evaluation! I hope more classes uses these types of textbooks in the near future.”

If you were to share your “lessons learned” with an instructor new to OER, what would they be?

OER is a lot of work up front. Finding resources can be a time-consuming challenge. But, it’s fun, too, to see what materials are available. I really enjoyed collecting resources and modifying them to fit my course. Also, I never found the “perfect” textbook to replace my traditional textbook. After searching for awhile, I ended up mashing up several sources and creating course content that really fits the needs of the class. I think the “mash up” approach is certainly worth considering when investigating OER.

 Ann Inoshita

Share, what difference, if any, using open educational resources has made to your teaching.

Students are able to access course content from the beginning of the semester. In the past, some students purchased their textbook late due to delayed funds. Although I provided a few photocopies of important text material, some students were at a disadvantage since they didn’t have the text. Now, there is equal opportunity learning because all students, regardless of their funds, are able to access the OER sources.

Share comments students have made to you about using of OER.

Students love OER. They love accessing course materials via “Weekly Modules” and reading the course content there instead of purchasing a book.

If you were to share your “lessons learned” with an instructor new to OER, what would they be?

Start early when finding OER sources. It takes time to find what you need for your course.

Jayne Bopp

Share, what difference, if any, using open educational resources has made to your teaching.

Its given me more freedom and control over my course materials.  I like not having to put in book orders each semester and not having to deal with the numerous frustrations that can come from working with textbook companies.

Share comments students have made to you about using of OER.

Many students are extremely grateful. Lots of them say that they wish their other classes were OER.

If you were to share your “lessons learned” with an instructor new to OER, what would they be?

Like any other kind of new “technology” the area of OER is rapidly developing. Just because you canʻt find good resources for some classes right now, donʻt give up.  Keep checking each semester. I think that soon most fields and disciplines will have access to quality OER materials.

University of Hawaii — Open Education Resources