O.E.R. initiative noted as success

January 13, 2017

An initiative to promote Open Educational Resources (OER) throughout the North Dakota University System in 2015-2017 has proven successful.

The North Dakota Legislature generously appropriated $110,000 for the initiative, which was reduced to $107,250 by the 2016 allotment. Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning and research materials that have been released under licensing that allows their free use by others. These are not just digital versions of textbooks; they include course materials, learning modules, software and other items useful in teaching. Thanks to the efforts of Rep. Thomas Beadle, students throughout the system realized great savings already.

The appropriated funding was used for system-wide faculty training and workshops ($29,710) and institutional grant proposals ($77,540). The anticipated immediate savings to students on the $110,000 legislative investments will be between $1 million and $1.8 million.[1] Over the next three years, students will likely save over $3 million. The actual return on the investment will be several times higher, as the project has trained numerous faculty, and will increase the adoption rate of OER by North Dakota faculty.

North Dakota State College of Science: (Round 2) $9,910.50. Create two OER math courses.  First year minimum return on investment estimated at $18,109.

Mayville State University: (Round 1) $10,000. Workshops and training for faculty to develop 10 OER courses in 2016-2017. First year minimum return on investment estimated at $78,693.

University of North Dakota: (Round 1) $10,000. Develop seven OER courses: Intro to Sociology, Intro to Psychology, State and Local Government, Calculus, and Aviation Meteorology.  First year minimum return on investment estimate $572,806.

University of North Dakota: (Round 1) $7,000. Create an OER version of Elwyn B. Robinson’s History of North Dakota. Return on investment TBD.

University of North Dakota: (Round 2) $6,000. Create an OER English 130. First year minimum return on investment estimate $25,500.

University of North Dakota: (Round 2) $5,629. Create an OER Calculus III. First year minimum return on investment estimate $100,440.

University of North Dakota: (Round 2) $3,000. Create an OER Computer Science course. First year minimum return on investment estimate $14,591.

University of North Dakota: (Round 2) $6,000. Create an OER art history courses. First year minimum return on investment estimate $6562.

University of North Dakota: (Round 2) $10,000. Create an OER History of Applied Science and Technology. First year minimum return on investment estimate $25,500.

Valley City State University: (Round 1) $10,000. Develop 10 OER courses. First year minimum return on investment estimate $61,000.

According to NDUS Chief Financial Officer Tammy Dolan, the initiative proved to have a tremendous return-on-investment.

“A little more than $100,000 was invested, which created an overall savings of more than $1 million, a number that is sure to increase over time,” Dolan said.

[1] The minimum return on investment has been calculated as (Cost of Course Materials Replaced x No. of Students) ÷ 2.  This provides an estimate based on the assumption that ½ of the students in a course buy used books, share books, or do not buy the book.  It is likely that more than ½ of the students in a course purchase the book, and thus this method creates a very solid minimum return on investment estimate.