Expensive, traditional textbooks are now a thing of the past for two Global Campus degrees at Washington State University. Faculty in human development and psychology led the effort to make their online undergraduate degrees attainable entirely through open educational resources (OER) – no-cost course materials that save each student hundreds of dollars in textbook bills each semester.

A team of 13 faculty, graduate students and staff collaborated with instructional designers from the Office of Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI) to develop a series of textbooks and course materials to convert the required courses for Global Campus’ BA in Human Development to OER.

“By having so many faculty involved we were able to design courses and course materials with expertise in a number of areas,” says associate professor Matt Bumpus, who worked on the HD project. “We’ve gotten really good feedback from students. About 85 percent of the students we surveyed said the new course materials were as good or better than traditional textbooks.”

Psychology students using OER have offered similar feedback. Several faculty members have converted online psychology courses to OER with the support of AOI staff and resources and Global Campus’ BA in Psychology will be attainable entirely through OER by the start of the fall semester.

Clinical associate professor Lee Daffin serves as online director for the program and has written several online textbooks over the past three years. He appreciates the accessibility the online platform offers, as well as the opportunities it provides to enrich the curriculum.

“As we’re writing these books and coordinating within our department, we’re linking together curriculum across courses,” Daffin says. “With inter-linking curriculum we can do something that no publisher can do, which is index across textbooks.”

Carrie Cuttler, assistant professor in psychology, produced a study last year showing students engaged with OER at a higher level than they did with traditional textbooks. Cuttler’s finding supports the department’s efforts to move more course materials online.

“Students see that these are faculty from their university writing these (online) books, and then we ask them for their feedback, so they’re a part of the process too,” Daffin says. “Our department has really taken an interest in this and we’ve gotten quite a few people involved. It’s been a cool process for us and the students benefit the most.”

Proposals for Affordable Learning Grants, designed to fund development and adoption of open educational resources at WSU, are available through the Office of the Provost and AOI.