Published: 03/11/2022 11:04:48
With the projected 2.5% in-state and 3% out-of-state tuition peak for 2023, UMass Amherst is continually making higher education more inaccessible. Along with rising prices for housing and meals, students are financially burdened with the process of coming to campus, not to mention the added costs of textbooks, access codes, and subscriptions to homework sites. With approximately 66% of students avoiding purchasing the resources needed for their courses, it is becoming increasingly clear that many students lose their academic experience, not by choice but by financial circumstance. This is why the academic transition to open educational resources (OER) must happen now. Professors would be able to provide their students with free access to digital course materials, approved and reviewed by educators in the same field and free to customize individual lessons. Within UMass alone, the use of OER has saved students more than $2.5 million, a number that is expected to grow with continued pressure for more faculty to make the switch. The creation of OER also provides a unique opportunity for team-based community learning, allowing faculty to work with students on compiling and creating learning resources for future semesters while incorporating diverse perspectives on teaching methods. . As a college student myself who has collaborated on the creation of textbooks in the past, it has helped me better digest the material while strengthening my relationships with my peers and mentors. Student debt afflicts all students, and we’re calling on more faculty to switch from fee-based publishers to open educational materials, as creating paywalls to learning resources impedes student engagement in their academic careers. . Student success and college affordability go hand in hand, and it is only with OER that we can begin to break down the barriers to effective and affordable learning.