Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) is an institutional strategy for reducing the cost of course materials for your students while providing faculty greater choice in quality educational content. In the earlier blog post, I summarized why AL$ is important for institutions to consider as a strategic, institutional priority. If you decide to put the effort into designing and deploying your own AL$ program, what type of outcomes should you expect? Do you really save students a significant amount of money?
After almost 20 years as Assistant Vice Chancellor and Senior Director for Academic Technology Services at the California State University Office of the Chancellor, I can confidently state, supported by reliable evidence, that you can make a difference for your students. I launched the Affordable Learning Solutions initiative in the Cal State University System at a Board of Trustees meeting in 2010 and we began to assess the financial savings for students. The assessment methods have improved over the years and in 2020-21, the 23 Cal State University campuses saved over $77 million (see Cal State University savings over the years). With the support from the California State Legislature, the California Governor’s Office, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, MERLOT, SkillsCommons and the outstanding Cal State campus leadership and faculty communities (the Affordable Learning Solutions program) produces a financial aid program for students worth almost $500 million.
The California Open Online Library for Education (www.cool4ed.org) is a key component of Cal State University’s AL$ program and provides further evidence of the no-cost and low-cost course materials adopted by faculty for specific courses. The COOL4Ed library also has a large collection of faculty ePortfolios where individual faculty tell their story of what resources they used to teach what the responses were from their students to have free and open educational resources available on the first day of class. Faculty telling their story to their colleagues in their disciplines can provide evidence that change is possible and change can make a powerful difference.
Want to get started on your own AL$ program? We are here to help move from a wish to a plan of action. Please contact us at ALemail@example.com if you’d like to explore how you can lead your institution on the Affordable Learning Solutions journey.