Zero cost for textbooks for students who sign up for AlamoOpen classes.
By Janie Medelez
Students looking to save money will have that opportunity with the AlamoOpen repository district website.
“The Alamo Colleges District is launching the AlamoOpen repository website tentatively next month,” said Phillip Anaya, digital and open educational resources coordinator of Alamo Colleges.
“Opening the door to more affordable and accessible education is a mission statement for the AlamoOpen repository website. We have a district wide committee meeting this week to discuss the adoption of the statement,” Anaya said in an April 29 email.
AlamoOpen is the district’s OER program.
Faculty members who use the AlamoOpen program will have the ability to create their own specific course offering no-cost materials and relieving the student from cost.
“The district’s initial focus was on utilizing open educational resources to reduce cost on instructional material, but my research work showed to be constraining to faculty in developing the material for the courses,” Anaya said.
“One of those is that there are many companies who are trying to make money off the movement by providing fee-based programs through OER, then charging the student or the institution to utilize those programs,” he said.
OER provides access to free educational materials in the public domain that are copyright-free.
The materials range from textbooks to full course modules, lectures and classroom activities designed for teaching and learning, homework assignments, quizzes thereby providing no-cost material to students.
“AlamoOpen has OER, welcome to use those copyright-free materials that your faculty created and or have gotten permission to use for free for the student, there are also institutional funded resources like the library database,” he said.
He added that the library database and institutional funded resources are protected by copyright and no fee to the student to use them.
“So, we incorporated all those into this big bucket of AlamoOpen, saying if a faculty created these courses and there’s no cost to students, still zero cost, we’re good with it.”
“We don’t care if it’s 100 percent OER. We care about 100 percent zero cost, and that’s where AlamoOpen came from,” he said.
“National average is around 30 percent of students buy their books new or from the bookstore. The rest are either not buying them or just scrounging around finding what they can find.”
They’re either getting a used one, borrowing, getting it from a friend, going on-line or pirating one, he said. “Which I was part of that movement when I was in school.”
“We estimate right now, we saved over $10 million [with the no-cost material programs]and have impacted 150,000 students throughout the district and that’s around 6,700-course sections since spring of 2015 that have been enrolled in AlamoOpen or Alamo IM Direct,” Anaya said.
Alamo IM Direct provides publisher material at a discount below competitive market rates that is billed into the student’s tuition.
Anaya could not provide a number for the instructors who received grants, nor could he say the value of the grant.
“Faculty were given small incentives to adopt no-cost materials through Achieving The Dream grant for the last three years, but was not enough for the amount of work involved,” he said.
Incentives included were better access, support and fee-based resources without a fee.
“The motive behind OER and AlamoOpen is to steward the movement, create and share resources not only with the students but with faculty as well.”
“Moving forward, we’re looking for different ways to incentivize either conferences or training,” he said.
“We can send successful faculty to go show and share their story and actually share their work. So that’s where we’re at right now.”
AlamoOpen will serve as a repository for OER, faculty-created and copyright-free materials which will be accessible to students and faculty for free on the Alamo Colleges website.
For more information, call Anaya at 210-486-0165.