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You don’t need to squint into a microscope to see how a department has worked to help students succeed. The Biology department implemented Open Educational Resources (OER) across the department through the adoption of OpenStax. Their department was selected to receive the 2024 AIM High Impact Group award because of their large-scale impact on thousands of students, which has resulted in an estimate of over $580,000 in student savings.

Students weren’t buying the textbooks, sometimes at all…what can we do better?

Christa Diercksen, Biology

Looking to meet the needs of their students, over the last several years the department has begun to transition their general biology classes away from traditional textbooks to open-source materials provided by OpenStax. With the easy integration to Webcourses modules, instructors can easily link to materials and chuck the learning materials, helping with student understanding and success.

Approximately 20 sections per year are taught for BSC2010 and BSC2011, with a complete transition to open materials for both courses in Fall 2022. Bio I is a required GEP black diamond course and Bio II is a gateway course, meaning thousands of students are implemented by the course materials.

Before the transition, depending on whether students chose an eBook rental (approximately $50) or purchasing a new edition of the textbook (approximately $300), this means there is anywhere between $490,000 to $2,940,000 estimated student savings since the full transition.

The Biology group also acknowledged Instructional Designer, Jim Paradiso, from the Center for Distributed Learning for his assistance with this work.

The support is there at the University level…a lot of stuff can be done in-house.

Matt Tye, Biology
Photo from the event with Provost Johnson, Christa Diercksen, and Matt Tye
Pictured left to right: Provost Johnson, Christa Diercksen, and Matthew Tye. Not Pictured: Matthew Atkinson, Charissa de Bekker, Melinda Donnelly, Pam Thomas, and Michele Yeargain.


Biology OpenStax: