Open Educational Resources Program can Save Students Big Bucks

Minnesota State University, Mankato is one of the many higher educational institutions that strives to ensure students have the necessary resources to make their time at the University worth it and successful. With this in mind, the university provides Open Educational Resources (OER) to students.

Mark Johnson, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at MSU, said, “Students are the core focus of everything we do at the university and in IT Solutions. Across the university, we work together to continually improve the student experience, access and understand what they need to be successful. OER is a great example of this and continues to be something we want to continue to raise awareness of.”

Johnson also noted that the entire point of OER is to reduce the costs of textbooks and so they can serve as a point of professional development and research on teaching and learning. Some examples of OER on campus so far are from OpenStax and the Open Textbook Library.

OER allows faculty members that have a Creative Commons copyright to reuse and revise content for free or at a low cost. This year, MNSU has been accepted as an institutional partner with OpenStax and will be working with faculty members to adapt to OER so the cost of course materials is reduced for students as a whole.

Carrie Lewis, Instructional Designer with IT Solutions at MSU said, “Over the past four years, I’ve provided professional development on the topic of OER for faculty and as a result, we’ve saved students $380,000 so far.” 

Lewis stressed the importance of how important OER is for the campus community. She also said that she didn’t think that a lot of students knew about OER, and that she hoped other students would spread the word. 

On the MNSU website, there are resources for faculty members on how to integrate OER into their courses. There are also resources for students wondering how OER affects them. There are podcasts and videos that talk about how much students really use their textbooks in their courses.

With a global pandemic still raging, Lewis said anyone can contact her to learn more about active teaching and learning tools.  Her office is 88H-Memorial Library and her email is

Header photo courtesy of Flickr.

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