A Cost Analysis of the Open Course Library
In October 2011, the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges launched the Open Course Library, a collection of high-quality, low-cost educational materials to correspond with the 81 largest-enrollment courses in the state. The first 42 courses are available immediately, and the remaining 39 are slated for development in 2012 and release in 2013.
In conjunction with the release of the first 42 courses, the Student PIRGs conducted this informal study to evaluate just how much the Open Course Library could reduce costs for students. Based on a survey of 22 of the program's 42 course authors, all of whom had agreed to adopt the materials in their own teaching, we have preliminary estimates for the impact of these courses.
- The OCL materials cost 90% less on average than the traditional materials previously used by faculty. Each term, this translates to $102 in savings per student, and $5,499 per course of students.
- The 42 faculty authors and their departments will save students a total of $1.26 million by using OCL materials during the 2011-2012 school year. This alone is greater than the $1.18 million cost of producing the courses.
- Additional faculty have already begun to use some of the OCL materials. The mathematics department at Green River Community College adopted the OCL Pre-Calculus materials, saving students an estimated $55,948 this fall alone.
- Once all 81 courses are complete, the savings could rise as high as $41.6 million if the materials are adopted for all 410,000 annual enrollments at Washington's community and technical colleges. While 100% adoption is unlikely, usage at other colleges and universities across Washington and the nation will almost certainly produce even greater savings.
Overall, the results of this study clearly show that the Open Course Library will not only save students millions on textbooks, but also generate a considerable return on the state's investment. Even in the unlikely case that the faculty who created the courses are the only ones who use them, the program will essentially pay for itself in textbook savings within the first year. Fortunately, between the handful of existing adoptions and SBCTC's efforts to promote adoption, we are confident that the savings will be far greater.
Resource file downloadTextbook Savings Analysis of the Open Course Library
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