The purpose of the Course Affordability Initiative is to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for Lafayette students by promoting the adoption, adaptation, creation, or reuse of Open Educational Resources (OER) or other low cost alternatives to commercial textbooks and course materials. The program supports faculty who want to make the transition to low cost alternatives by providing grants and assistance for reworking course syllabi or creating new free materials.
The price of textbooks has risen dramatically in recent years, with some individual textbooks costing as much as $300-400. The 2017 report of the Student Support Task Force recommended that the College explore ways to reduce textbook costs for students.
We at the Libraries view the affordability of a college education as a social justice issue and believe that promoting OERs in the classroom is one of the ways we can most directly help to reduce the cost of attending Lafayette College. We are not alone — many institutions have begun to promote the use of low-cost alternatives to traditional, expensive course materials. More faculty nationwide are creating or adopting free textbooks, such as those available through OpenStax. For some good examples of ways to adopt OERs and reduce costs, you can browse through the various projects done at the University of Massachusetts and funded by their Open Education Initiative (scroll to “Previously Awarded Projects”).
To learn more about the benefits of OER initiatives, and how one was implemented at Temple University, you can watch the recording of the slides and audio from a talk given at Lafayette in March 2018, featuring Steven Bell, Associate University Librarian, and Daniele Ramella, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, both at Temple.
Any faculty member or instructor at Lafayette who is teaching an upcoming course is eligible to apply.
Successful applicants can receive:
Any proposal that has the potential to result in significant cost savings for students will be considered. However, priority will be given to applications that aim to adopt or develop materials that are free from copyright restrictions and can be adapted and reused. We will prioritize applications that will impact the greatest number of students over time; as such, we encourage collaborations with other faculty that will result in the reuse of the materials developed.
The list of previous grant recipients gives some sense of the types of projects that have been awarded to date, but this list should not be read as a limit to the scope of how the grants may be used.
An investigation grant supports investigation into whether free or low cost alternatives exist and would be a good fit for a particular course; it may or may not lead to an implementation grant. An implementation grant results in a modified course syllabus that incorporates free or low cost alternatives. An implementation grant can follow an investigation grant, or can stand alone in those cases where the OERs are already known. Implementation grants can also support the development of new open texts or materials.
Applications are accepted at any time. Because we know that the timeline for course preparation varies significantly depending on the nature of the course, we accept applications throughout the year.
A liaison from the Libraries or ITS will be in touch with you to start the project and will meet with you throughout the project. For investigation grants, please submit a brief report when the project is concluded describing the landscape of available materials and what steps you plan to take next, if any. For implementation grants, please submit a report at the end of the course including an assessment of the effectiveness of the materials and feedback from students. We also ask that you be prepared to give a brief presentation about the course at an upcoming information session.