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Affordable Learning Ohio

Bowling Green State University’s Affordable Learning Initiatives

Bowling Green State UniversityBGSU has been actively engaged in efforts to provide an affordable education for its students, including textbooks and other learning resources. Information, education, and advocacy have been the primary methodologies in promoting affordable textbook (and other learning materials) options.

Textbook Affordability Initiatives

  • Adoption of Sidewalk’s Hero, a textbook adoption and procurement tool in Fall 2017, has provided a valuable resource for faculty and students. Faculty use Hero to identify textbooks and learning materials available from a variety of different vendors/sources (including OhioLINK) in multiple formats and price points, and students purchase/rent materials directly from the source. Eliminating the traditional campus bookstore function has saved the University more than $500,000 in textbook inventory carrying costs and associated expenses, and the space has been repurposed and renovated to create a centrally located suite for the Career Center and Student Employment Services departments.
  • To ensure that students have information about all the related costs of a course (and in support of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008), faculty are prompted and encouraged to place their textbook adoptions prior to the first day of registration for the subsequent term. Messaging to deans, chairs, directors, and faculty help to promote early adoption of textbooks and other learning materials. Hero provides status reports to monitor the courses that have textbook adoptions completed and courses with no textbooks required.
  • Textbook and learning material resources for students and faculty are available online at the Textbook Hero website.
  • BGSU has joined with other IUC institutions to take part in a textbook cost benchmarking project. Each participating institution has agreed to calculate textbooks/learning materials costs for 5-10 of the most popular (by headcount) majors/programs. Once established, the textbook costs associated with the 5-10 majors will be calculated each year to measure the overall impact of cost-reduction efforts.
  • A survey of the textbooks used for the most popular (by enrollment) first-year courses provided a snapshot as to the number of different books used for the same course. The data was shared with deans, chairs, and directors to create an awareness of different textbook options selected for the same course; e.g. of 20 sections of Introduction to Biology, 12 unique textbook titles were indicated.
  • An ad hoc Faculty Senate Textbook Affordability Committee was established to gather information regarding textbook ordering practices and make recommendations for faculty, students, and administrators, including:
  1. Provide training for faculty on how to access and create open source text materials
  2. Link e-Books and other resources within Canvas, BGSU’s learning management system
  3. Use Hero to identify the most economic sources of textbooks and learning materials
  4. Provide professional development funds, course releases, and other incentives to faculty who create course materials/texts and content for BGSU students.
  5. Develop open-source materials
  6. Educate faculty and students regarding more affordable textbook and learning material options
  • The University Libraries (UL) continues to promote and utilize course reserves to reduce the cost of textbooks by providing free access to course materials. Faculty may place books, textbooks, or media on reserve for 2-, 24-, or 72-hour time periods. The UL continues to purchase textbooks for selected courses with high enrollments and multiple sections; priority is given to textbooks with the highest list price.

Advocacy Initiatives

  • In 2017, the UL joined the Open Textbook Network and hosted OTN presenters for on-campus faculty and staff workshops on textbook affordability. UL staff offered a similar workshop to Firelands branch campus faculty in spring 2018. Over 30 BGSU faculty reviewed open access textbooks in their disciplines during fall 2017; many expressed interest in adopting open access textbooks in future semesters.
  • In response to growing interest in low- and no-cost educational materials, the UL developed Alt-Source Your Textbook Adoption, a resource guide for faculty looking for alternatives to traditional high-cost textbooks. In addition, guides have been developed to help faculty and students navigate textbook affordability options.
  • Library faculty, in partnership with staff from the Center for Faculty Excellence, offer Canvas Commons workshops focused on discovering and sharing learning resources, including OER. The Commons is a learning object repository that enables faculty to find, import and share resources. A digital library of educational content, Commons allows Canvas users to share learning resources with others (internally and externally to BGSU) as well as import learning resources into Canvas courses from hundreds of other institutions.

Adoption and Creation Initiatives

  • ScholarWorks@BGSU is an institutional repository for hosting, preserving, and providing access to scholarly work created at BGSU. Faculty have the opportunity to create digital textbooks and publish them as open access textbooks within the ScholarWorks platform. Currently, there are many examples of faculty/student scholarship, University publications, conferences, three peer-reviewed journals, and two journals featuring undergraduate student research.
  • During the 2018-19 academic year, the UL will collaborate with The University of Toledo Libraries on an open textbook pilot project. BGSU and UT faculty who teach in disciplines with significant undergraduate populations will partner and work with university librarians to publish new open textbooks.
  • The UL will develop a faculty learning community in fall 2018 focused on best practices in the use of UL and OhioLINK resources and OER as required course materials. UL and OhioLINK content are suitable for use as high-quality, low-cost course materials. Unless a license forbids it, much electronic/digital content can be embedded within Canvas learning management course shells.
Contact Information: Emily Gattozzi, Coordinator of Scholarly Publishing, Bowling Green State University, University Libraries, 1001 East Wooster St., Bowling Green, Ohio 43403,, 419-372-8681.