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Campus Expands Effort to Make Course Materials Affordable

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Beginning in January, students at Cal State Fullerton have another choice when they select their college courses: to pick classes that offer free digital materials or low-cost print versions.

With the passage of state Senate Bill 1359, all college campuses are required to highlight on their online course schedules those classes that exclusively use free digital materials or low-cost print versions.

The effort is but one way the University is developing ways to help students get the courses and the materials they need to succeed in their educational goal of a college degree.

Cal State Fullerton is one of 11 universities and schools across the nation taking part in the OpenStax Institutional Partnership Program to encourage the use of free, peer-reviewed textbooks and other Open Educational Resources — free digital teaching, learning and research materials — on campus.

“This is too important for faculty to not pay attention to finding materials that enrich students educational experiences but don’t break the bank,” said Shelli Wynants, director of online education and training in Faculty Support Services, who noted the opportunities for faculty to reuse, remix and change materials through the OER effort.

“In addition to lowering costs, this movement is kicking off a national discussion on what it means when we say ‘public higher education,’” added Wynants. “OER  provides opportunities for faculty to consider how course and program design can be adapted to provide greater access to knowledge, knowledge creation and education.”

“Pollak Library is a huge supporter of Affordable Learning Solutions,” said J. Lindsay O’Neill, Pollak Library instructional design librarian. ALS is a California State University program that offers free and lower-cost course materials. Details on the campus effort are available here and for the CSU at this website.

“We’ve always provided zero-cost course materials to support student learning and lower the cost of education for students. In the last 20 years or so we’ve built a robust digital collection that contains hundreds of thousands of ebooks, hundreds of hours of streaming video, and millions of articles and other materials,” O’Neill added.

Through Titan Shops, students can access reduced price course materials through used books, book rentals and digital programs, and through a Titan Shops and Information Technology partnership — Titan Direct Access — free digital access to select course materials from the first day of the semester through the add/drop deadline. A student wishing to continue the course and use the digital materials may do so by paying a cost less than for a printed textbook through Titan Shops.

The CSU also offers MERLOT, which offers multimedia educational resources for learning and online teaching, and California Open Online Library for Education, where faculty can explore free and open e-textbooks being used by their peers in the CSU, University of California and state community colleges.

For more information on OER or to explore zero-cost instructional material options, contact Shelli Wynants at