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Open Educational Resources and Penn State Abington Library

Why Use Open Educational Resources?

To Directly Impact These Common Concerns

Financial Challenges A high number of Penn State students face significant financial challenges when it comes to the cost of their education. Nearly 75% of the students at some of the Penn State campuses are receiving some form of financial aid, and more than a third meet the requirements for Pell grant eligibility

Textbook Costs Students also struggle to gain access to their course materials due to already high costs which have risen nationally 88% between 2006 and 2016. The current Penn State University developed estimate for per semester textbook costs is $920. High course materials costs can result in students not having access to their textbooks; in some cases, multiple weeks after the semester has started.  Often both faculty and students report that they do not acquire the textbook at all.

Barriers to Access Other student populations have additional barriers to access. Nearly 25% of Penn State's World Campus students actively serve in the military and may be stationed overseas. Students in these circumstances may not be able to order traditional textbooks in a timely manner and face challenges in receiving mail-ordered library materials. Lack of access to course materials directly impacts student learning and success, which directly impacts retention and graduation rates. . Penn State University Libraries contributes to textbook access through Course Reserves, but access codes make it ever more challenging for students to find alternate means of procuring their course materials when they are financially unable to do so.

For Increased Student and Faculty Options

Lifelong Learning In addition to creating a cost-barrier for students, expensive course materials also hamper students’ ability to be lifelong learners. When they need to consistently choose to rent or sell-back core materials in their discipline, they lose the option to develop a resource of instructional materials that could maintain their interest and knowledge as they progress through the curriculum and into careers or graduate school. When books are single-use, they can’t return to them to refresh and cement their understanding as they encounter new ideas.

Faculty Customization On the instructor side, faculty can feel hemmed in by closed textbooks – forced to continually adapt their instruction to each new edition of a textbook, or left to flounder when the material suddenly changes. Open materials allow instructors to choose the best, most relevant content from a variety of sources in a way that best supports their own syllabus and instructional goals – and each new iteration of an open course provides support for another instructor to do the same.