PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning is the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana’s initiative to improve student success and retention by supporting the use of course materials that are free to students. PALNI campuses are affiliate members of the Open Textbook Network through this initiative.
PALSave supports student success and retention by fostering the use of Open Educational Resources (OER). It provides collaborative resources and a framework for OER awareness, education, and engagement. In addition, it funds and supports faculty adoptions of affordable learning materials to enhance the teaching and learning missions of private higher education in Indiana.
This team started in 2018, after PALNI’s Affordable Education Initiatives Task Force completed an environmental scan of peer programs, resulting in this preliminary project plan identifying components for future work. In 2019, PALSave was awarded a $520,000 grant for this initiative by Lilly Endowment, Inc.
The academic landscape is growing more difficult with escalating financial pressures, yet colleges and universities must continue to provide excellent services and resources. Especially for private institutions, there is a need to be cost-sensitive in order to recruit and retain students. According to College Tuition Compare, the average cost to attend private college in Indiana is $42,103 for the academic year 2018-2019, which includes about $1,300 for textbooks.
The cost problem is not only significant, but growing at an alarming rate: student loan debt has doubled in the last decade, and the price of textbooks is increasing at a rate three times that of inflation. Moreover, costs of traditional educational materials is found to have a negative effect on student performance and retention.
Open Educational Resources (OER) are one solution to help alleviate this pressure. They are freely available materials, openly licensed for reuse, remixing, and redistribution at no cost to educators and students. The leading provider of open textbooks, OpenStax out of Rice University, reports savings of $155 million and counting. Also, recent studies have found that courses that use OER result in positive student perceptions and increased retention, with equivalent or improved learning outcomes.
Unfortunately, the majority of faculty are not aware of open educational resources, or how to locate them for application in the classroom. These facts make evident the need for an affordable education materials initiative, and highlight an opportunity for the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) to help.