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Campus Efforts Provide Nearly $1 Million in Student Textbook Savings

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As faculty members explore and increase the use of ebooks, rentals or free, peer-reviewed textbooks and other Open Educational Resources (OER), Cal State Fullerton students are reaping the benefits.

Over the last two years, alternatives have saved students an estimated $994,977 in textbooks and other course materials, says Shelli Wynants, director of online education and training.

Wynants is the driving force for the effort, signing up Cal State Fullerton as a partner in the OpenStax Institutional Partnership Program and working with the campus Affordable Learning $olutions effort.

Through her office and other efforts on campus, including digital programs and the availability of library ebooks, not only do students have a greater range of options to choose from but faculty do as well, Wynants noted.

“OER provides open licensing, which is great for faculty because they can access and utilize parts of books and materials that work with their courses,” and then they don’t have students buying books for a single or a few chapters, she explained. Through OER, those pertinent chapters can be blended with material from other openly-licensed books and articles or the teaching instructor’s own materials.

And Wynants should know. She used OER in her spring child and adolescent studies research class, a hybrid course in which students took part in a weekly online module and in person for the weekly lab.

The usual book would have cost each student more than $100 but by using OER, she found the appropriate material. “I remixed the material from several OER books, added my own examples, video clips and quizzes.”

Halfway through the course, she surveyed the students about the use of OER material. “And the results were terrific,” she exclaimed. “The students thought I had created the material just for them.”

Feedback included:

  • “I can print out the chapters and then highlight what I feel is important.…”
  • “The lessons are interactive and keep my attention much better than textbooks.…”
  •  “I’ve found the OER materials more helpful than the other three textbooks I had to rent this semester.”

Working in this effort has “gotten me to think strategically about sharing resources and best practices,” Wynants said.

“Our goal is to move toward zero textbook costs, whenever feasible,” she added. “We’re trying to get as close to that as possible.”

Faculty seeking more information about OER and Affordable Learning $olutions on campus can go to Open Fullerton website, the Online Education and Training website or email,