Ask most college students, and they’ll affirm that one of their biggest expenses is the cost of textbooks. A core initiative of the University System of Georgia is finding ways to provide high-quality, low-cost materials that replace expensive textbooks. Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG) seeks to be a “one-stop service to help USG faculty and staff identify lower-cost, electronic, free and open educational resources (OER), building on the cost-effective subscription resources provided by GALILEO and the USG libraries.”
“Internet resources have changed drastically in the last five years,” explains Dr. Dee McKinney, Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning and Associate Professor of History at East Georgia State College. “When I talk about free, online sources, I’m finding scholarly articles from refereed journals, primary sources, and published discourse between professors at places such as Harvard and UCLA.”
McKinney serves as EGSC’s ALG Campus Champion and, with librarian Katharine Shepard, received a textbook transformation grant in Fall of 2016 for part one of the college’s Western Civilization course.
The pioneers of ALG at EGSC were Dr. Tori Kearns and Professor Deborah Lee. They received the first ALG grant for the college in 2014, transforming Introduction to Psychology by creating their own online textbook chapters and other materials. Since PSYC 1101 is a popular class for all majors, their work with ALG has saved money for thousands of students.
"ALG opened a door for me to explore myriad learning resources that seamlessly replaced the anachronistic textbook," said Lee. "ALG served as the impetus for me to fully embrace the gifts of the digital age, thus strengthening my relevance in a classroom of digitally-minded students."
ALG also sponsored a subject-specific program, Open Mathematics in Action. Professors Christine Xie and Jing Kersey received their grant in the Summer of 2016. In addition to lowering costs for college algebra, pre-calculus and statistics, goals of the grant include raising student success and satisfaction.
Dr. Florenta Sega and Dr. David Chevalier were awarded a textbook transformation grant for BIOL 1107, an introductory course intended for science majors, in Fall 2016. They chose to use an open educational resource biology text from a service called OpenStax. They will also supplement BIOL 1107 with original teaching materials.
The newest ALG grant recipients at EGSC are Professor Da’Mon Andrews and Professor Antré Drummer. They chose to work with Developmental Mathematics, a course that gives additional instructional support to students before they take College Algebra. Like HIST 1111, Andrews and Drummer will incorporate LibGuide, which organized an array of open educational resources into a single document.
The end result in textbook cost savings for East Georgia State College students taking these courses is about $200,000.
“The other important thing to note is that the results of these ALG projects are public,” says McKinney. “Our work is scalable and available to other USG institutions. We’re saving money for all students in Georgia with practices that don’t compromise quality.”
For more information and details about all grant recipients, visit www.affordablelearninggeorgia.org/about/about_us.