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College explores alternatives to cut textbook cost

Augustana College faculty, with support from President Steve Bahls, is engaging in a college-wide effort to assess free and low-cost resources, acting on research that shows using high-quality alternatives to traditional textbooks could improve learning and save students money.

“We are committed to providing greater access to academic texts because it aligns with our mission to be affordable, support student success and retention, and grant better access to our most at-risk students,” said Dr. Sharon Varallo, director of the Augustana College Center for Faculty Enrichment.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are textbooks and supplemental materials published with a Creative Commons license instead of copyright, which allows them to be shared free of charge or at a significantly reduced cost.

Faculty have been asked to review available materials and incorporate them as appropriate into their course design.

Connie Ghinazzi, Augustana research librarian and member of the state of Illinois OER task force, reported that across five programs with faculty currently using OER at Augustana, approximately $100,000 in textbook costs for students was eliminated in 2018-19. 

At least 45 Augustana faculty members teaching 60 classes report they are  integrating low- or  no-cost textbooks and alternatives into their classes now, or intend to with the start of the academic year this fall.

An additional 20 faculty are exploring alternatives for additional classes. The college’s upcoming transition from trimesters to semesters provided the opportunity to revisit course materials. 

President Bahls supports further exploration of OER, believing that offering textbook alternatives is in line with the college’s strategic plan, Augustana 2020, concerning affordability.

Augustana consistently  has been ranked by US News and World Report for its efficiency. College Factual also recognizes Augustana as one of the best colleges for the money based on the quality and cost of an education. 


Ashleigh Johnston, 309-794-7833 

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