Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) is an institutional strategy for reducing the cost of course materials for your students while providing faculty greater choice in quality educational content. Why is AL$ important? There is pervasive evidence that the cost of course materials has a significant impact on student behavior which in turn affects their success in learning, retention, and time to graduation. Research published by the Florida Virtual Campus has found that 43% of students surveyed now take fewer courses per semester and 23% of students indicated they dropped a course because of the cost of textbooks. If your institution is prioritizing the improvement of graduation rates, integrating AL$ as a strategy is relatively a straightforward, effective program to implement.
Is textbook affordability an issue for your students? What percentage of your students are Pell Grant eligible? Meaning, how many of your students’ families can not afford to send their child to college? What percentage of your students are food insecure or homeless for at least part of the year? These are the questions and data to share with your faculty and staff. Ask them what they can do to help their students who don’t have secure food, housing, and finances. Often, the answer lies in finding and adopting more affordable course materials that are also learning solutions for their courses.
Once you establish an institutional need for AL$, you need to organize a systemic strategy. Begin by facilitating the partnerships among the campus stakeholders such as librarians, bookstore staff, academic technology staff, centers for students with disabilities, centers for teaching and learning/faculty development, etc. to build a comprehensive strategy that will serve the diverse demands of your faculty, students, and academic programs. Leadership is essential for successfully facilitating your internal campus collaborations and for facilitating partnerships with external, commercial providers. Commercial providers, who deliver affordable, quality course materials, have partnered with your library, your bookstore, and your academic technology departments for years. Together, commercial capabilities and your AL$ program can provide a wealth of affordable choices for your faculty. For example, XanEdu’s FlexEd services empower faculty to reuse, revise, remix, retain, and redistribute Open Educational Resources (OER), creating derivative educational content that has higher quality and is produced more efficiently than if the faculty tried to do it all on their own.
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 ALfirstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to explore how you can lead your institution on the Affordable Learning Solutions journey.