Affordable Learning Solutions

Open and Low-Cost Learning Resources



Textbooks and other learning resources are a significant expense for our students. This has resulted in pressure on faculty and administrators to lower the resource costs for classes and justify these costs. This issue has been addressed at the campus and state levels for the past five years. Background information regarding learning resource costs can be found in a discussion paper of the State Regent’s Faculty Advisory Council:


There are a large number of consortia, projects, and companies, many with the word “Open” in their name, working on ways to lower the textbook cost to students. One of the efforts identified in the discussion paper is MERLOT, a multi-state learning resource collaboration. The California State University system and MERLOT have created a web site to pull together all of these no- and low-cost textbook and supplement options.


Affordable Learning Solutions:


This web site features:


·         Free Course Materials – These are individual resources, or “learning objects”, that can be adopted and adapted for a class. The materials here are similar to what are found on many of Open Courseware sites. These materials can be searched by topic, or by entering the ISBN of a textbook suitable for a class.

·         Free Textbooks – This is a listing of full textbooks, in many cases fairly traditional texts, that are freely available for use and editing. Again this listing can be searched by topic and ISBN. Links are provided to open textbook publishers and distributors as well as other search services.

·         Low-Cost Publisher Materials – This page includes some listings of publishers willing to re-package textbook materials into different, and cheaper, formats.

·         Authoring – This page provides tools and services for pulling together open resources for a class or publishing an open source textbook.

·         Deployment – This page has examples on how ALS has been deployed on some of the Cal State Campuses.


Some of this information is specific to the Cal State campuses but this resource database is useful for all higher education. The Oklahoma State Regents are a MERLOT partner and the Oklahoma Library Directors are considering an ALS initiative. This provides OU opportunities to take advantage of these resources.