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The Academic Senate passed and Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong endorsed a resolution which states a significant rise in the cost of textbooks is a barrier to college attendance, student access and student success.

Specifically, the rising cost of textbooks and supplies affects all students, but disproportionately students of lower income.

According to Open Content and Digital Publishing Librarian Dana Ospina, who is also a member of Open Educational Resources (OER) Taskforce, open educational resources is a way for faculty to provide course material for little to no cost.

“It contributes to student success particularly for students who are economically challenged because they don’t have to worry about where they are going to get money for the textbook,” Ospina said.

OER course materials are openly licensed, which means that they can be distributed freely.

“We need to address a specific problem: textbooks are expensive and the costs are only escalating,” Ospina said. “Our goal is to produce resources for the lowest cost possible.”

On Oct. 8 Assembly Bill 798 “College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015” was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill creates an incentive program for California State University (CSU) and California Community College campuses to receive funding when they adopt OER.

In order to receive funds, first, the Academic Senate at each university must adopt a resolution in support of increasing access to high-quality OER. Next, it must create a plan in collaboration with students and campus administration that outline the faculty’s commitment to use funds to support the adoption of OER.

They are currently creating the plan, which will be submitted before the deadline on June 30, Ospina said.

“It is very significant that the campus is aware and involved because it’s going to provide faculty who are interested in open educational resources with the support to be able to make that transition, if they choose to do so, from traditional textbooks to OER,” Ospina said.

Faculty who adopt these resources are able to provide low and no-cost resources. However, faculty still maintain academic freedom — they can choose which resources would work best for their class.

“Sometimes the best resource is a traditional textbook, but now faculty has another option,” Ospina said.

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