How We Saved Temple Students $300,000 – An Open Education Week Story

Open Education Week is coordinated by the The Open Education Consortium, an association of hundreds of institutions and organizations around the world that are committed to the ideals of open education. Universities, colleges, schools and organizations from all over the world have come together to showcase what they’re doing to make education more open, free, and available to everyone.

Open Education Week is an effort to bring more attention to open courses, such as those offered by Coursera and EdX, and open educational resources (OER). OER is more than just learning content that is freely available on the web, although much of it is freely available, such as OpenStax textbooks. But to be truly “open” these resources should meet the criteria of the “5 Rs”.  Those Rs stand for:

  1. Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

OER therefore is not only free, but allows other scholars to make all types of uses of that content in repurposing it for learning and further sharing.

Temple University Libraries supports OER by encouraging faculty to stop using costly commercial textbooks and instead use open educational content supplemented by licensed library content (the latter which is free to Temple students and faculty but not “open”). One vehicle to support that activity is the Alternate Textbook Project. To date it has enabled 35 faculty to stop using a commercial textbook. Since the launch of this project in 2011, Temple students have saved over $300,000 in textbook costs.

Take some time during Open Education Week to learn more about how faculty members are sharing their educational materials through open repositories such as MERLOT, a website where faculty can contribute and find peer-reviewed learning content, such as presentations, tutorials and quizzes. Many faculty use MERLOT resources in their courses to help support an alternate textbook. Complete open textbooks may be found by using the Open Textbook Library, a searchable catalog of open texbooks. If you have any questions about the Alternate Textbook Project or OER, contact Steven Bell, Associate University Librarian at bells @


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