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UMKC part of system-wide initiative to adopt affordable and open educational resources

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University of Missouri System President Mun Choi and Chancellor Leo E. Morton announced a plan that will save students significant amounts of money on textbooks and other course materials. This initiative at all four UM System campuses is designed to reduce the cost of attendance and enhance learning for students. The plan takes advantage of Open Educational Resources (OER), or class materials that are free for students, and AutoAccess, which is a program that makes textbooks and class materials available online at a lower cost than traditional learning resources.

“High-quality, affordable education is central to our mission as the state’s public higher education institution,” Choi said. “By providing open-source and affordable textbooks, we are meeting the needs of our students by lowering their costs and increasing their access to the resources that will help them be successful on our campuses.”

To accomplish this goal, a working group of faculty, staff and students, including a team of librarians, bookstore personnel and campus instructional design staff, will be formed to provide input from all four campuses. The group will work collaboratively to develop a system-wide strategy to increase awareness of affordable and open resources, incentivize the transition to those resources, and encourage University-created materials to be shared as open resources. This work will be done in conjunction with campus-specific working groups.

“The issue of textbook prices is part of a larger national conversation that is happening in universities throughout the country,” said Scott Curtis, learning and research librarian at UMKC Libraries. “As a library at a major research institution, we provide thousands of educational resources to our students, faculty and staff every day, which enhances the educational opportunities available to students. This affordable and open educational resources initiative is a collaborative effort among our faculty, staff, students and librarians across every University of Missouri campus.”

Some campuses are already using online resources to reduce the costs of textbooks for students. The working group will review that progress and see how the resources can be shared throughout the system. One example of these online resources is a program known as AutoAccess, which is available to all four campuses within the UM System.

According to Pete Eisentrager, manager of the UMKC Bookstores, UMKC will have 29 AutoAccess courses this fall. AutoAccess is an inclusive access course materials program for the UM System, created in partnership with major publishers and faculty. AutoAccess provides digital and adaptive course content via the campus learning management system (LMS) at a significantly reduced cost.

“This program was developed as a means to further reduce the cost for students while supporting faculty teaching needs,” Eisentrager said. “Students in AutoAccess classes have their course materials on Day One of class, which increases their access to important educational tools.”

Per the Department of Education’s guidelines, content provided in programs like AutoAccess must be “below competitive market rates.”

Examples of student savings at UMKC include the following courses:

  • Acct 310 (Intermediate Accounting):  New price  = $253.30; AutoAccess price = $66.99
  • Acct 350/5565 ( Acct. Information Systems):  New price = $318.40; AutoAccess price = $72.99
  • Nurs 252 (Human Development):  New price = $271.30; AutoAccess price = $35.99
  • Educ R&P 5508 (Design & Elevate Research):  New price   = $246.65; AutoAccess price  = $66.99

The system-wide initiative is launching this summer, and the working group is committed to making fast progress toward its goals. While OER continues to gain scalability and faculty support, programs like AutoAccess offer an additional strategy to drive down the cost of education.

As Eisentrager noted, “The UMKC Bookstores are here to partner with faculty and students to source the most cost-effective materials selected by faculty that help students succeed in the classroom.”

To find out if AutoAccess is right for your course, contact Pete Eisentrager, eisentragerp@umkc.edu, 816-235-5879.

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