June 4, 2020

The rpk GROUP team recently completed a second year of collaboration across the SUNY system, partnering with SUNY System and campuses to create sustainable student success initiatives. 

rpk GROUP has been working with SUNY OER Services and campuses across the SUNY system to design and implement sustainable financial models that support OER adoption and growth. New York State made a significant investment in campuses to shift courses to OER. As a result, students are saving money – foregoing the typical $125+ textbook for no-cost or low-cost materials curated or adopted by the faculty members teaching these courses. Research suggests that while the savings from not purchasing textbooks and digital access codes from publishers directly impact students, about a quarter of students would actually use those savings to benefit the institutions they attend by taking additional credits.

Of the cohort of 16 campuses rpk GROUP works with directly in the SUNY system, several are reporting an uptick of interest from faculty who had to hastily move courses online for the spring 2020 semester. “With uncertainty about what our future semesters will look like, faculty can help ensure access for students by adopting OER and other low-cost and open-access resources,” said Cori Wilhelm, assistant director of library services at SUNY Canton. “Faculty appreciate that OER can provide stable access for students regardless of instruction modality, and students appreciate having access to required course materials regardless of their financial means.”

Students who previously accessed reserve texts from the library are no longer able to do so, an issue that may continue into the fall if campuses are forced to remain online. Realizing this need and increase in demand, some SUNY campuses are pushing to move lower-level courses to OER in advance of the fall semester. This promise of no-cost or low-cost digital learning materials may be the difference to students when making plans for their fall semester on the basis of affordability and access. 

“The initial motivation for a coordinated, guided approach to sustaining campus-based OER efforts across SUNY was to allow for a deeper understanding and nurturing of the cultural changes needed to sustain the use of OER.” said Michael V. Daly, director of operations at SUNY OER Services. “To their credit and earlier than anticipated, many participating campuses took these lessons and quickly applied them as part of response to COVID-19 demands. Rather than dropping ‘one more thing,’ numerous SUNY campuses were able to demonstrate how emerging OER programs could be sustained and thrive.”

More information on rpk GROUP’s work with SUNY on sustainable student success can be found via SUNY OER Services.

Richard Staisloff

Richard Staisloff

Rick Staisloff is the founder and senior partner of rpk GROUP. Follow him on Twitter: @rstaisloff