Delta’s OER initiative reaches a new milestone

A Delta College initiative to save students money and provide free access to course materials has reached a new milestone.

Since 2016, Delta’s Open Educational Resources initiative has saved students a total of $1 million in textbook costs. OER are textbooks and other course materials licensed under Creative Commons and freely available online to use, share and modify.

Michele Pratt, director of library programs and services and co-chair of the OER committee, said efforts were beginning to support student success. In the winter semester of 2022 alone, students saved more than 142,000 US dollars.

“We know a lot of students are financially constrained and one of the things they cut back on is textbooks,” Pratt said. “Often they don’t realize they need a textbook until it’s too late. With OER, everyone has a textbook from day one of class because it’s free and online.”

Laura Dull, history professor and co-chair of the committee, said OER is a national movement.

“The textbooks are written faculty to faculty,” Dull said. “Housing course materials online gives educators from across the country the freedom to adapt course readings and textbooks from year to year, making them more relevant and timely for students.”

Delta’s OER initiative is a campus collaboration that includes representatives from academic departments, the bookstore, and student and education services. Delta is a member of the Open Education Network and coordinates efforts with Michigan Colleges Online.

Early Adopters

Sociology was the first discipline to introduce the use of open educational resources at Delta. It began with Donna Giuliani, a professor of sociology, and expanded to include a group of faculty members who wrote textbooks for several sociology classes.

Giuliani said the ability to tailor textbook content to her students’ interests is particularly appealing.

“We can look at things with a macro and micro lens,” Giuliani said. “For example, we can look at global poverty and stratification and then pull it down to the local environment so I can keep things relevant in the textbooks year after year.”

Today, Dull said, about 65 faculty members from science and math to criminal justice and psychology use OER, and that number is increasing every semester.

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Written by Leah Twilley, Communications Specialist.

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