The following are reviews for The Evolution of Affordable Content Efforts in the Higher Education Environment: Programs, Case Studies, and Examples.

An undergraduate student in the United States can expect to spend more than $1,200 each year on textbooks and other course resources. High textbook costs create a true access challenge for students.

At The University of Texas at Arlington, we have chosen to pair the values of access and success. In so doing, we recognize that attention to factors that stress students’ ability to gain access to higher education must be part of a comprehensive student success strategy. This urgent work should not be done in a vacuum but rather with insights from colleagues engaged in similar work. Shane Nackerud and Kristi Jensen in The Evolution of Affordable Content Efforts in Higher Education: Programs, Case Studies, and Examples offer best practices and sage advice from those practitioners deeply engaged in enhancing textbook affordability at their institutions.

For those of us responding to faculty concerns about adoption of OER, practical strategies are valuable. For example, faculty may cite the loss of ancillaries as a barrier to OER adoption. Miller, Duffy and Gjestvang describe a consortial effort to use collaborative authoring to create multiple test banks.

Cullen, Stewart, and Stringer offer readers the benefits and challenges of replacing a first-year science textbook with readings from an online database already licensed for students at a university, avoiding any textbook costs for students.

Parks brings the important discussion of universal design into the conversation on open content. The author makes important points about how current strategies to provide access to textbook content to students with learning differences, requiring students to self-identify and prove unique needs, fall far short of the ambitions of universal design. The OER movement offers an opportunity for unfettered access for students across learning needs and types. The shared case studies in mathematics offer inspiration for those wanting to broaden access.
The twenty-six case studies in The Evolution of Affordable Content Efforts in Higher Education offer excellent resources for college and university educators, including librarians, faculty, and administrators, seeking practical insights and inspiration to enhance affordable content for their students. I highly recommend the text.

Rebecca Bichel
Dean of Libraries
University of Texas at Arlington

Commensurate with the disproportionate rise in the cost of educational materials over the past decade, a growing number of colleges and universities across the country have identified textbook affordability as an increasingly real barrier confronting students at their institutions. Until now, no work has offered a collection of first-hand accounts from those who, at the birth of a movement, with no map for reference, have forged paths in the landscape of textbook affordability.

An unprecedented anthology in its subject matter, The Evolution of Affordable Content Efforts in Higher Education: Programs, Case Studies, and Examples shares honest accounts from the field on a diversity of topics, including: the value of establishing a cross-representative campus team of textbook affordability champions; strategies for generating faculty buy-in for OER; using, gathering, and analyzing data as critical components of an affordability initiative; the importance of embedding Universal Design techniques and steps for creating accessible content into faculty guides for authoring and remixing OER; leveraging existing technology and services of the library; ancillary creation camps, and beyond.

Although the what and the why revealed throughout this collection serve as justification for instituting a textbook affordability initiative, these pieces of information do not alone coalesce into a clear picture of what’s needed for a successful program. If Open pioneer Lawrence Lessig is correct in saying “creation always involves building upon something else,” then it’s the detailed account of how, genuinely and generously shared in nearly every chapter, that is the key to catalyzing radical transformation of the affordable educational material movement and landscape. New, established, and veteran content affordability programs alike: this open collection is a map for reference.

Maran Wolston
Philosophy Faculty
Minneapolis Community and Technical College
LeadMN 2018 Instructor of the Year

Having monitored two different OER-oriented discussion lists since their inception, the majority of academic librarians are seeking advice on how to accomplish the following to advance textbook affordability at their institution:

  • Best practices for starting an affordable textbook initiative at a college or university;
  • Strategies to encourage faculty to adopt OER and alternative learning materials;
  • Identifying OER and alternate learning content for curricular areas.

Given the diversity of our institutions, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, although there are some commonalities, such as designing a faculty incentive into the project. The Evolution of Affordable Content Efforts in Higher Education: Programs, Case Studies, and Examples addresses these high-demand questions by delivering on what its title promises – examples.

With its wide-ranging collection of case studies, this volume succeeds in truly offering ideas and solutions for academic librarians across the spectrum of institutions, though it is most likely to appeal to those who are just now considering an affordable learning initiative or are still new to this growing area of library advocacy. There is a mix of voices, some from outside the academic library, reflecting a range of experience with OER, newcomers and experts alike, offering value for those in the early stage of their institutional effort as well as those grappling with complex issues, such as coping with publisher initiatives to co-opt or hamper affordability initiatives.

While it will undoubtedly be a go-to resource for academic librarians seeking advice and answers to their “How do I…” and “Who has already…” questions, where this volume will make its mark is in advancing the progress of global affordable content efforts and initiatives by encouraging more librarians to take a leadership role for textbook affordability at their institution. What should encourage all affordable and effective learning advocates is this volume’s scope as a reflection of tremendous progress and great hope for a promising future.

Steven Bell
Associate University Librarian for Research and Instructional Services
Temple University


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The Evolution of Affordable Content Efforts in the Higher Education Environment: Programs, Case Studies, and Examples Copyright © 2018 by Kristi Jensen and Shane Nackerud, selection and editorial material (individual chapters, the contributors) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.