Getting Started

Building a baseline…

Before diving into repositories or contacting the library, it is a good idea to first gauge the faculty member’s working knowledge in the area of affordability.

This page is, therefore,  designed to touch on AIM at a high-level, while supplying enough detail to answer any preliminary faculty inquiries.

UCF Stats

Citing actual numbers regarding the UCF student population is always helpful, and can help faculty make more informed decisions about course materials. Here are some stats from a survey that we’ve distributed in select UCF courses for three years now:
  • 68% of students have chosen not to purchase a textbook at least once due to cost
  • 86% of students have delayed the purchase of a textbook at least once due to cost
  • 22% of students decided not to take a specific course section because the materials were too expensive

These results usually get faculty’s attention. As librarian Rich Gause says, “You can’t learn from materials you don’t have.” Not having access to course materials from day one can negatively impact course performance. In addition, a  large-scale research study has shown that students using no-cost course materials in a semester enroll in significantly more credits the next semester, even when controlling for other factors. You can see that both faculty and the university would have something to gain by adopting low-cost/no-cost materials.

You Have Their Attention, Now What?

Hopefully, they are starting to understand that lowering the cost of course materials is one way that they can personally help students to more optimally perform in their course, as well as complete their degree. Now they need to understand the options at a higher level.

Now would be a good time to show them the four pillars and give a high-level overview of each. (Access the printable version of this page: Building a baseline…)

First Day (Barnes and Noble)

First Day is a program out of Barnes and Noble, which is UCF’s official bookstore provider. UCF’s contract with Barnes and Noble states that B&N is the exclusive seller of course materials at UCF; however, there is some wording that indicates that other options can be explored in the name of affordability.

First Day is an example of an ‘inclusive access’ model, which means that students can opt-in to purchase course materials at a discounted rate until the add/drop date. Opting in quickens their access to the course materials. If they do not opt in, they are responsible to purchase the materials on their own.

Faculty should contact the UCF bookstore or their publisher representative if they’d like more information about this program.

  • Advantages: Immediate access to course materials; discount on price.
  • Considerations: Sometimes the discount is not terribly significant; faculty are not encouraged to explore alternative course materials which may save more money.

Open Educational Resources

Open educational sources (OER) are materials that are free and openly licensed, giving users the legal permission to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the material. The material can be different types such as text, images, videos, test banks, simulations, and other digital assets that are useful for teaching and learning. They can come in various file formats, but the most common are ePub, html, and .doc(x).

One common misconception is that as long as it’s online and it’s free to access, then it’s an open educational resource. That is not true; OERs are openly licensed. By applying a license for the work, the creator of the resource can choose what kinds of permissions to give others who are using the resource.

Open licenses are created through Creative Commons. The most permissive one is CC-BY, which lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the original work, even commercially, as long as they credit the creator for the original creation. The most restricted one is CC BY-NC-ND, which only others to download the works and share them with others as long as they credit the creator, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially. To review the six different licenses, visit About the Licenses. This is a helpful page when you need to decipher what a particular license means.

Is your head spinning? Creative Commons has an awesomely simple License Chooser, which guides the creator to choose the license that makes sense for them.

  • Advantages: Absolutely free for student. Faculty can use existing content or adapt existing content to fit the personalized needs of students. Faculty can create brand new materials and share widely, receiving attribution through the open license.
  • Considerations: There are so many resources to explore online. How to find the right one? Choosing an open resource as a textbook replacement can prompt a whole redesign of a course, which the faculty may not be inclined to do. Usually there are few created ancillary materials, so faculty has to take the time to create assessments.

(Just a few) Examples of OER

Library Resources

The UCF Library has an amazing wealth of resources which are free to the student (yes, some of the tuition costs factor in there, but in students’ eyes, library resources are ‘free’).

Note there are two librarians very helpful in the affordability arena: Katy Miller, Textbook Affordability librarian, and Sarah Norris, copyright expert.

The library does not carry publisher textbooks, but they do have a print textbook reserve collection. Faculty are encouraged to donate a print copy of their textbook so students can check it out for a limited time.

We have seen many instances in which the books faculty require are already digitally available in the library. Each eBook in the library has specific digital rights – for instance, sometimes only one user can ‘check it out’ at a time, which isn’t helpful for a whole class. It’s encouraged to consult with the subject librarian in order to see if permissions can be altered, in that case.

Librarians do not create brand new content, but they are adept at exploring library resources and making recommendations. Perhaps a publisher textbook is not available in the library, but there is an alternative book that fits the bill. Subject librarians can help with that.

  • Advantages: We have a close relationship with librarians and a common goal to support faculty and students; the library has many resources.
  • Considerations: They do not carry many publisher textbooks. They do not create resources.

Affordability Counts

Affordability Counts (AC) is a recognition program, which was originally developed by Florida International University. Quite simply, a faculty member submits their course information on the AC website, and if the course materials cost $20 or less per credit hour (e.g., less than $60 for a 3 credit course) for each student, then their course is designated ‘affordable’, and they receive the AC digital medallion, which they can then display within their course. Their course will also be featured on the AC website, making it easy for other faculty to adopt the same or similar low-cost materials. UCF, as well as other state universities and colleges in Florida, have partnered with FIU to achieve larger reach, scale, and exposure through this program.

Note: You are not forced to choose just one of these avenues. These have simply been provided to establish a firm base for the interactions and materials you will encounter as you progress through the AIM experience.


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Affordable Instructional Materials – ID Handbook Copyright © 2019 by James Paradiso, Aimee deNoyelles, John Raible, Denise Lowe, Debra Luken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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