8 Efficiency

Colleges can consider different ways to generate efficiencies within their OER programs to drive down costs. There are multiple ways that colleges could chose to reduce development costs:

  • Create one master OER section per course. Developing one master OER course avoids creation of multiple OER sections of the same course, reducing stipends for similar work and the expense associated with reviewing and maintaining multiple course sections.
  • Limit editing privileges. Once an OER section is developed, limiting editing privileges reduces time spent revising and reapproving new versions of a course.
  • One OER section = All OER sections. Departments that require adoption of the same textbook for all course sections may consider a similar policy for all OER courses sections; standardization avoids duplication of effort and streamlines course management.
  • Provide differentiated financial incentives. Larger stipends for converting high-enrollment courses reduces the development cost per student enrolled and boosts potential student savings; incentivizing conversion of courses with high textbook costs increases student savings.
  • Encourage team-based development. Team-based development offers several potential benefits, including: faster time to course completion; increased confidence in course quality; a collegial development experience; and possible adoption by multiple faculty members. These factors can reduce the development cost per section and per student. However, the greatest savings occur when faculty effectively delegate work tasks and reduce duplication of effort. Stipends that are offered per course, and then shared among contributing faculty members, also curbs per course development expenses.
  • Encourage cross-System development. For courses that are aligned across WTCS (e.g., aligned general education courses, medical terminology), create cross-System teams to divide the workload and pool resources (e.g., Pressbooks access, funding) to adapt and create OER. For example, a cross-system team of instructors and librarians is adapting an open Medical Terminology textbook and creating ancillary materials (question bank, assessments, word bank). These cross-System collaborations can be made at System Called Meetings for subject areas (e.g., IT Conference, BOSS+, Common Ground, see myWTCS for a list of large System-wide meetings), within the WTCS OER Network (college OER Champions post to the Network for ‘in search of’ OER collaborators announcements), and within the WTCS OER Repository (reach out to the faculty listed for specific OER to start a collaboration for adapting/revising the text).

Academic efficiencies (Return on Investment). OER may generate efficiencies for departments if it improves academic outcomes for students. When fewer students withdraw or receive grades of D or F (DFW rates) because of first-day access to OER materials and/or changes in pedagogy associated with OER materials, fewer students will need to retake the course. This reduction in course repeats may reduce the number of sections a department needs to offer, which can have real budgetary savings if fewer adjuncts are needed to teach the course.


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WTCS OER Field Guide for Sustainability Planning Copyright © by WTCS OER Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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