Youngstown State University's Affordable Learning Initiatves

Youngstown State UniversityCreation of the Open Textbook and Resource Initiative: In an effort to provide more affordable options for Youngstown State University students, with regard to purchasing classroom resources and textbooks, YSU has implemented an Open Textbook and Resource Initiative (OTRI).  The goal of OTRI is to ensure that Youngstown State University students are not overpaying for textbooks and course materials, if there is a viable choice for our faculty that provides the same level quality but at a cost savings to the student.

The Distance Education Office in partnership with the Textbook Affordability Committee and support from the Provost office, are continuing our work in identifying courses that could benefit from the adoption of openly licensed resources. We are promoting these resources through workshops and grants to encourage faculty adoption. We are also presenting the information at department meetings as well as individual discussions with faculty members. With respect to the faculty member’s academic freedom, we are promoting multiple options to reduce cost. We are working with faculty to educate, review and adopt multiple open resources campus-wide.

Advocacy: The Provost Office at Youngstown State University has been very supportive of our initiative. The office provides different levels of compensation for reviewing, adopting, and re-designing open educational resources. There is a mini-grant of $750 dollars for individual faculty members adopting an open resource. If there is a department wide adoption for a course, there is a mini-grant of $1,500 paid to the department and dispersed at the chairs discretion. There is a $1,000 grant for any faculty member that adopts and re-designs a Barnes and Noble Loud Cloud course. The course is thoroughly reviewed through the Distance Education office to ensure quality. Faculty members receive a mini-grant of $200 to review a book through the Open Textbook Network.

In March 2017, YSU hired an Instructional Designer in the Office of Distance Education to assist in the creation of online courses and materials and in the promotion and adoption of open educational resources (OER).  

Textbook Affordability Committee created a plan to interact with faculty members regarding adoption of openly licensed resources. The committee has representatives from the student body, the library and the distance education office with a reporting line on this issue to the faculty senate. We have partnered with the Open Textbook Network as well as OhioLink to help adopt and promote open resources.

Alternative Textbook Programs: As a contracted partner, Barnes and Noble continue to offer reduced textbooks for many of our courses at Youngstown State University.  They participate in price matching and buy-back programs to assist our students in saving money on books. The price match program through Barnes & Noble saved students $15,000 over the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 terms.

LoudCloud logoThe Distance Education office has also worked with Barnes and Noble to promote the LoudCloud product on campus. Representatives from Barnes and Noble have made multiple presentations on campus to faculty members. Beginning fall 2017 Barnes & Noble ran our first pilot for the First Day Ready program.  This ensured students had the materials they required, at a lesser price, on the first day of class.  It ran for PSYC 1560 and saved the students over $36,000.

Maag Library has become actively engaged in increasing the number of print textbooks available to students through the Closed Course Reserves, which allows the students to check the book out for three-hour increments. Working with faculty, students, and the bookstore, students can now check out 346 textbooks, an increase of 179 textbooks from Fall 2016.

Adoption: The Distance Education office assists faculty members from exploration through adoption of an open resource. We assist faculty in fully online courses, as well as face-to-face sections. Even in the plan’s infancy, seven instructors have adopted openly licensed resources in courses this past year.  We plan to continue our efforts to build our initiative and ensure students at Youngstown State University are not overpaying for books.

Contact Information: Joe Alberti, Instructional Designer,Office of Distance Education, Youngstown State University,