Immaculata Works to Replace Costly Textbooks by Providing Affordable Learning Resources Through Grants

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Immaculata student using computer
Image via Immaculata University.

Immaculata University received a total of three grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s PA GOAL (Grants for Open and Affordable Learning) program. PA GOAL is aimed at eliminating or reducing the cost students’ pay for textbooks and other materials for college courses. As an experienced leader in using open educational resources (OER), Immaculata used the new funds to help faculty members integrate OER into their courses.

In total, the three grants support transitioning 47 distinct courses from traditional textbooks to OER content. The first grant focused on converting ten undergraduate courses, mostly core curriculum courses. The second grant, also for ten courses, supported six courses at the graduate level. One of these courses serves six distinct master’s programs; the other five support a variety of graduate programs/certifications. The final round of the grant, awarded in July, provides Immaculata with financial support for an additional 27 courses that transitioned to OER across undergraduate and graduate programs.

With the average cost of a hard copy college textbook hovering around $400, Immaculata’s dedication to expanding the usage of OER will benefit students directly. In addition, because information in a textbook can change frequently and become outdated, OER allows for instantaneous updates without the need to purchase the newest editions, which increases 12 percent with each new iteration. Currently, Immaculata has nearly a quarter of its online and/or accelerated courses using OER.

Having the flexibility to leverage online resources can enhance a faculty member’s options to offer content that reaches a broad range of learning styles. Darcey Doyle, M.B.A., director of curriculum and instruction at Immaculata, has been helping faculty develop OER even before the PDE grants. As a longtime adjunct instructor for the university, she recognizes the immediate benefit of providing this alternative to students and has seen those resources work effectively in her courses.

The grants are funded by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) and administered by Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc. (PALCI). The purpose of the PA GOAL program is to award a series of grants to encourage and support faculty and academic staff in creating, adapting, and adopting OER and other zero-cost materials for classroom use in Pennsylvania institutions of postsecondary and higher education.

“Immaculata is honored to be among the institutions of higher education who are addressing the issue of affordability,” said Angela Tekely, Ed.D., vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost. “In addition to the cost-savings from OER, today’s students expect dynamic, engaging content that does not always come from a textbook.”

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