Highlighting Student Perspectives

Students play a vital part in the OER landscape. A primary motivator for OER adoption is the impact that the rising costs of textbooks and other course materials have on our students. The student response, and the stories our students share about OER are influencing the future of OER use at institutions around the world.

Whiteboard with "I spent $ on textbooks" when I could have spent it on food.

The #Textbookbroke campaign began in the United States as a way to showcase the high prices of textbooks and engage in conversations with college and university communities surrounding affordability. This campaign’s goal is to spread awareness surrounding open textbooks and OER more generally, as well as ensure that students are talking about the price of educational materials, and thinking critically about the resources that they are assigned. (Read more about #Textbookbroke).

Watch this short video for an example of a student OER promotion initiative.

Students on your campus may be engaging on a regular basis with:

  • Faculty who have adopted OER and open pedagogy in their courses
  • Staff at teaching and learning centers who offer resources and professional development for faculty who wish to use OER
  • Academic staff who use OER to support student success
  • Librarians who encourage faculty to adopt OER
  • Administrators who are interested in making OER part of institutional strategy

Strategies for Student Advocacy

Students at your institution may be interested in furthering an OER initiative on their own.

BC Campus OER Student Toolkit

BC Campus Open Education provides a toolkit that provides information on how interested student societies/associations as well as individual students can successfully advocate for greater OER adoption on campus. The toolkit explains the benefits of OER and provides guidance on how students can help promote OER adoption.

This resource offers guidance for multiple steps of a student-led OER initiative. Consider the following advice:

  • What is some work already being done that could use an extra boost?
    You may find that many advocates have ideas for things they want to start, but they need an extra boost that can come from students expressing their passion about an issue. Talk to these advocates to encourage them to get started implementing their ideas, and offer to help in any ways you can.
  • Who needs to be brought together that is working alone?
    Students, especially student leaders, have access to people in all areas of the university, who may be working in silos. You may find that people in all areas have similar interests but are not working as closely together as they could, and one key role students can play is bringing all of these advocates together.
  • After you consider the above, where are the remaining gaps?
    Once you have determined how you can augment and build upon existing work and ideas, you can look for the remaining gaps that you can fill by starting new projects and initiatives.

Read more in the full report.

Cover of OER Student Toolkit book

BCcampus OER Student Toolkit: An Advocacy Guide for Student Leaders

Student Government Toolkit

Another student-oriented OER promotion tool set is available from The Student Government Resource Center. This detailed action plan includes timelines, concrete strategies, and measurements for effective outcomes.

Steps to a Successful Campaign

To make this happen, you will need to build support for open textbooks within key audiences on campus so that your campus administration will feel compelled to support this new program. Here are the steps to running an effective campaign:

Raising Awareness

The biggest barrier to open textbooks is the lack of awareness among students and faculty about their existence and benefits. You will need to generate visibility and hold educational events in order to get the campus talking about the problem of high textbook prices and the option of using open textbooks.

Mobilizing the Student Body

Build support for this campaign among students first, since they are the ones most directly affected by textbook prices. Ask students to speak out about their own experiences buying textbooks, then let them know about open textbooks. Once you’ve built up support with the student body, get the student government to pass an official resolution in support of an open textbooks program

Building Faculty Support

Professors choose the books that will be used in their courses, so their involvement is vital to the success of your campaign. In addition, the administration isn’t likely to support a new program related to textbooks unless the faculty is on board. You will need to meet individually with key faculty members to ask for their support.

Winning Administrative Support

Once you’ve lined up the support of students and faculty, you should sit down with key administrators to propose that the campus create an open textbooks program. Once you win their support, you should take your proposal up the ladder until you get to a president or chancellor who has the power to officially approve and fund your proposal.

Read more in the full report.

Making Textbooks Affordable Cover Page

Making Textbooks Affordable: Student Government Toolkit

Get Creative

Students, faculty, and campus advocates will all respond to a movement they feel part of. Invite creative approaches to getting attention and initiating conversations that are uniquely suited to your particular campus culture.

One such model is the “Out of this World” marketing campaign from Lane Community College in Oregon. Local advocates generated an eye-catching poster — and openly licensed it for other campuses to adapt and use if they so wish.

Textbook prices can be astronomical poster

Write on this Course: The Power of Student Advocacy

Hypothesis logo

There are many low‐barrier ways that students can get involved in the OER movement, and student advocacy is key to widespread campus OER adoption. Share your thoughts on including student voices in OER promotion by responding to these questions:

  • How have you talked to your students about OER?
  • What opportunities are there for students to contribute to OER in your courses, or other courses on campus?
  • What student societies could become involved in OER advocacy on your campus?

You can use Hypothesis to add your answers as public annotations to this page. Comments are welcome anywhere on the page. Please use the tag #SUNYOERChat in your posts.

“Hypothes.is_logo.jpg” by Hypothes.is is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons CC BY License ImageUnless otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The content in this course is adapted from the following works: