Call for Public Comment and Endorsement: Statewide Support for the Creation and Adoption of OER

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The CARLI Board of Directors endorsed the following statement at its June 10, 2022 meeting and approved making the statement available on the CARLI website for member comment (open to all CARLI member library staff) and individual member endorsement by CARLI Member Library Governing Directors.

Statement from the CARLI Open Educational Resources Committee

Members of the CARLI Open Educational Resources Committee are asking that Open Educational Resources (OER) be considered a focal point of discussions within the College Course Materials Affordability and Equitable Access Collaborative Study Act and Task Force (CCM Task Force.)

We believe that statewide support for the creation and adoption of OER is a crucial component of affordability in Illinois, and we understand this to be an achievable and sustainable solution to course material costs in higher education. We want to ensure that this task force is informed about both OER and its benefits, but also the concepts (e.g., inclusive access) that publishers use to promise equitable access, but often mask practices that disenfranchise students.

There is much work being done across Illinois to create and share OER. These materials are openly licensed and made available to both students and faculty teaching related courses. They can be adopted, distributed to students, and tailored to meet their individual needs due to open licensing. Materials are free to students in a digital format and can be printed out for a fraction of the cost of a published textbook. Open licensing also means that students have permanent access to these texts and other materials in perpetuity. Research from a recent article on the impact of OER in the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education indicates that moving from commercial textbooks to OER can improve grades, as well as decrease drop, failure, and withdrawal rates for students, with disproportionately positive effects on Pell eligible students.

OER are often created via institutional grant opportunities and are subjected to peer review and other quality assurance processes. That is to say, faculty are creating high quality materials for their students through these grant funded programs that are freely available to students at their institutions and institutions of any other faculty using the resource. They also allow for opportunities for innovative and flexible pedagogy. Students can participate in the creation and updating of these materials as part of their course work, offering opportunities to both see themselves within their field and the long-term impacts of their work. It also provides opportunities for students to have research and publishing experience for their portfolios upon graduation.

It would be naïve to believe that publishers will not be a part of the future of college course materials. We understand that commercial providers will be participants in these conversations and will make contributions to course material affordability efforts. We assert, however, that commercial providers’ practices have made course materials inaccessible to many students, and consequently necessitated the creation of the task force, whose purpose it is to address the sustainability and equitability of course material costs.

For example, commercial providers’ programs like inclusive access promise day one access to course materials, which solves one problem: the delay in students acquiring their course materials. However, these programs often provide time-limited licensed access to a digital text or suite of materials which have their access removed at the end of the semester, and sometimes before. Should students need to refer to materials later in their academic careers or retake a course, they will need to purchase the materials again at full cost. While these materials typically have their prices reduced in exchange for the guaranteed purchase, they can often still be expensive for students, remove options for seeking out materials at a lower cost, and remove the student’s ability to decide whether to purchase. Ultimately, the decision for course materials must be pedagogically appropriate for the instructor, students, and institution.

The CARLI OER Committee members acknowledge that the provision of materials for college students encompasses not providing solely OER to students, i.e., that commercially published textbooks will continue to be part of the larger context. Our goal is to ensure that the Governor, the Illinois General Assembly, and ISAC are presented with a complete understanding of options, are aware of the extraordinary efforts already in motion to bring free-to-use, free-to-adapt OER to students across the state and consider OER as an investment-worthy piece of the solution toward equitable access to course materials.

Relevant articles to help inform you on these issues are linked below the signature.

We hope you will consider the pursuit of OER as part of the statewide solution for course material costs for Illinois students.

We would be happy to meet with the task force to discuss this further.

On behalf of the CARLI OER Committee
Dan Matthews, CARLI OER Committee Co-chair
Chris Sweet, CARLI OER Committee Co-chair


Institutional Endorsements and Comments

  • Adler university

  • Aurora university

  • benedictine university

  • black hawk college

  • Bradley university

  • CARLi board of directors 2021-2022

  • Catholic theological union

  • chicago theological seminary

  • columbia college chicago

  • Depaul UNiversity

  • Eureka College

  • Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

  • Heartland Community College

  • illinois college of optometry

  • Illinois Institute of Technology

    • OERs need to be distinctly investigated as a possible solution at scale as they align neatly with equity, inclusion, and accessibility goals. OERs could also be an important part of a sustainable higher education infrastructure, whereas rental/subscription programs seem more likely to undermine that infrastructure. Any data gathered about inclusive access and rental/subscription programs is likely to be unhelpful unless the investment and long-term return of those programs is compared against OER investment and return. Devin Savage, IIT
  • Illinois state university

  • Illinois Wesleyan University

  • kankakee community college

  • Knox College

  • Lake Forest College

  • Lake Land College

  • lewis University

  • McKendree university

  • methodist college

  • Millikin University

  • monmouth College

  • moraine valley community college

  • morton college

  • National Louis University

    • OER supports access to high quality content and represents an investment in the public good. OER increases access to diverse materials and knowledge and enhances innovate sharing of information. OER is an essential ingredient in affordable education. Rob Morrison, National Louis University
    • The National Louis University Library whole heartedly supports the use and creation of Open Education Resources. These materials help to offset some of the rising costs of higher education and are more accessible than traditional books. Alexis Carscadden, National Louis University
  • north central college

  • Northern Illinois University

    • Illinois can and should lead in the transformation of higher education to make it both more affordable and accessible to ALL students. It is critical that course materials be made freely available to our students as part of this initiative, and I encourage the Task Force to focus on ways to empower faculty, libraries and even publishers to move the needle on college costs through Open Educational Resources. Benefit to students and the state should drive the conversation, and not profit. Fred Barnhart, Northern Illinois University

  • Northwestern university

  • Oakton Community College

    • OER ebooks are essential means to our shared end goal of equity for students in higher education. High cost textbooks and learning materials should not be barriers to success for any student, especially for first-generation community college students. Sherrill Weaver, Oakton Community College
  • Quincy university

    • Anything to help the students lower the cost of their education is important. Patricia A Tomczak, Quincy University
  • Reaching across Illinois library system (RAILS)

  • Richland community college

  • roosevelt university

  • saint John's College of Nursing

  • shawnee community college

  • Southern Illinois University Carbondale

    • As a representative of Southern Illinois University Carbondale I fully endorse this statement. OERs help hold down the cost of higher education in Illinois and keeps students enrolled in state universities. John Pollitz, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
  • Southwestern Illinois College

  • Spoon river college

  • Trinity christian college

  • TRITON College

  • University of Chicag0

  • university of illinois chicago

  • University of illinois springfield

  • university of illinois urbana-champaign

Personal endorsements and comments

  • Todd Bruns, Eastern Illinois University
  • OER should be a key consideration as we look for solutions to the problem of affordability. Brandon Board, Waubonsee Community College
  • OER repositories, such as OpenTextbooks by University of Minnesota, host rubrics and reviews by teaching faculty to curate selection. Jennifer Stubbs, Bradley University
  • Marie Savoie, Bradley University
  • OER textbooks solve so many problems in higher education from the cost of materials to a lack of access to quality instructional materials for educators. As a copyright librarian who is very familiar with ebook licensing issues, I strongly endorse this statement. Sara Benson, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Marie Martino, Moraine Valley Community College
  • Open Educational Resources are valuable tools in addressing economic inequities found in many parts of our communities. Beneficiaries include enrolled students and their faculty. OER can also benefit the people who can't go to colleges and universities. Meg Miner, Illinois Wesleyan University
  • Support for the development and use of Open Education Resources (OER) can ensure that one barrier to student progress and success in higher education is removed. The cost of textbooks can be overwhelming and often prohibits the academic progress of many students. Providing ALL students with access to freely available, quality, materials is much needed. OER addresses many social justice, diversity and economic issues. Every leader, politician educator and supporter of higher education should support the efforts of the taskforce. Charlene Snelling, Chicago State University
  • Support for OER is one of the best ways we, as educators, can make education accessible to everyone. I fully endorse this statement. Valerie Neylon, City Colleges of Chicago
  • Creating and adopting OER is beneficial to students and lifelong learners alike. Also, OER offer flexible alternatives to commercial textbooks and help faculty better customize course materials to suit their pedagogical needs. I endorse this statement and think OER should be better integrated into higher education in Illinois and nationally. Adrian Ho, University of Chicago
  • Open educational resources help provide equitable access to course materials for all students. Christina Norton, Bradley University
  • OER is beneficial to both students and faculty for multiple reasons. Not having the burden of high textbooks is increasingly a key factor that more students are considering when selecting their courses. A number of universities are now designating OER courses in their course scheduling systems. OER falls under diversity, equity and inclusion as well as a social and environmental justice matter. As a faculty member, an OER course allows me to update course materials more readily to keep in line with updated advancements related to the course. I also appreciate the fact that students have immediate access to the materials without delay as some students wait to purchase their textbooks. Patricia Saleeby, Bradley University

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