May 11, 2021

New report on Ohio’s statewide textbook affordability effort

A new report by Ohio State researchers examines Ohio’s statewide multi-institutional project to develop free course materials for popular college courses and provides key recommendations for Ohio policymakers and college leaders.

The report, co-led by researchers in the Office of Student Academic Success and the University Libraries, focuses on the Ohio Open Ed Collaborative, a statewide initiative that recruited and supported inter-institutional teams of faculty to develop open and affordable college course materials. Across its first two years, OOEC developed 23 freely available modular course packages that college instructors can use in place of commercial textbooks.

The study focused on processes of course package creation and adoption. Results suggest that instructors perceived multiple benefits to OOEC package adoption; however, the time and effort required to adopt these packages were a major barrier. For some instructors, the benefits of OOEC adoption outweighed its challenges. However, for departments in which large proportions of students are taught by less-experienced or overstretched part-time faculty, the costs of OOEC package adoption in terms of instructor time and effort seemed potentially infeasible.

In order to support larger-scale adoption of OOEC packages across the state, the report recommends that Ohio policymakers and higher education administrators: (1) provide statewide resources to support OOEC adoption; (2) leverage state policies to expand instructor familiarity with OOEC materials; and (3) ensure long-term maintenance and updates of the OOEC packages.