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Affordable Learning (AL$) at CSUMB

What is Affordable Learning?

Affordable Learning at CSUMB 🦦

Affordable Learning at CSUMB is a resource for faculty interested in using no- or low-cost digital content including open educational resources (OER), library materials, and bookstore solutions in their courses instead of costly commercially published textbooks. Support is available from the CSUMB Center for Academic Technologies (CAT) and the CSUMB library to help faculty choose and design high-quality learning materials. Contact for help getting started.

For more on Affordable Learning, visit the CSU Affordable Learning Solutions website.

Affordable Learning Program Goals ✔

  • Support adoption by faculty of quality educational content that is affordable for students, and promotes student success and equity
    • Grant opportunities (💰)
    • Direct point-of-need assistance
    • Workshops and tutorials
    • Networking
    • Copyright and accessibility guidance
  • Provide opportunities for faculty to showcase their use of affordable learning materials
  • Assist faculty via direct point-of-need contact, workshops and tutorials, networking, and funding support.

Benefits of Affordable Learning 

Benefits for Faculty:

  • Access relevant & high-quality content
  • Academic freedom to add or modify content
  • Ability to adapt & customize learning materials
  • Opportunities for Innovation
  • Increased student enrollment retention
  • Improved student engagement
  • Grant funded stipend

Benefits for Students:

In their 2021 report, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Links to an external site. stated that 65% of students do not buy required textbooks and that food-insecure students were more likely than their peers to skip buying access codes to digital course materials. 

Benefits to students include:

  • Reduced financial burden
  • Reduced time to graduation
  • Improved engagement & academic performance
  • Anytime access to course materials across multiple devices.
  • Up-to-date, cutting-edge course content
  • Opportunities for more innovation and creativity
  • Increased access to accessible, diverse, equitable & inclusive content

Check out the video below:

San Francisco State University's Affordable Instructional Materials (AIM) program interviewed faculty to get their perspective and experience using affordable materials in their courses. Take a moment to watch the video below to see highlights of the faculty feedback.

Affordable Learning Strategies

Supporting affordable learning efforts at CSUMB can encompass a lot more than finding a free textbook or articles. You might be surprised and the variety of strategies available to you to help support students make informed financial decisions and have a rich learning experience.

Affordable Learning Without Changing Content

It can be easy to assume that supporting affordable learning translates to revamping your entire course or changing your textbook completely. While these changes can be an excellent choice, there are a number of other cost-saving strategies available that don't require making any changes to your current course materials, including:

  • Identify Course Materials Requirements Early
  • Report No Course Materials Required 
  • Publish Your Syllabus Before the Start of the Term
  • Put Your Textbook on Course Reserve in the Library
  • Commit to Using the Same Textbook Edition for Multiple Terms
  • Switch from Printed Course Readers to Posting in Canvas
  • Copy or Digitize up to 10% of Your Textbook
  • Meet with the Library to Discuss Free Options for Your Textbook
  • Talk to the Bookstore About Options to Reduce Costs

Affordable Learning With Updated Content

  • Change to a Lower Priced Textbook
  • Use Free Resources Available Online - Articles, journals, videos, podcasts, etc.
  • Incorporate Open CourseWare
  • Write Your Own Content
  • Adopt, Adapt, or Create Open Educational Resources (OER)
  • Implement Open Pedagogy - Turn sourcing and creation of learning materials over to your students.

Check out the video below:

The Kansas State University Open/Alternative Textbook Initiative provides grants to faculty members to replace textbooks with open/alternative educational resources that are available at no cost to students. These resources include e-books, problem-sets, video-based and interactive content and other formats that are created, adapted, or adopted by the faculty members.

Current Opportunities for Faculty 2023

Current Faculty AL$ Opportunities:

AL$ Committee Faculty Adviser/AL$ Champion: Funding amount: $3,000

Serve as a faculty representative to advise the AL$ Committee, including monthly committee meetings and email correspondence. Promote affordable learning across campus and consult with colleges, departments, and faculty on the adoption of reduced-cost course materials with a minimum target of 30% student cost reduction.  Serve as a coordinator to identify faculty interest and enrollment in Affordable Learning Initiative training and AL$ grant funded activities. Assist in processing documentation for AL$ grant reimbursements.

Also serve as an AL$ Champion to work with faculty across campus to reduce the cost of instructional materials (usually textbooks) by at least thirty percent. Faculty in this role will identify the faculty willing to participate, assist in the identification and implementation of lower cost materials, coordinate the creation of Faculty Adopter showcases, and assist in the payment voucher documentation processes for participants.

AL$ Adopter: Funding amount: $500 per instructor per course.

Faculty must identify and adopt lower or zero cost materials to replace an existing textbook or other materials for a minimum cost reduction of thirty percent. Funds are available on a per-course basis. Faculty will submit a showcase documenting their adoption(s), cost reduction, and payment voucher documents to satisfy the grant. 

AL$ Training Course Participant: Funding amount: $300

Faculty must successfully complete the Introduction to Affordable Learning Solutions course (including all assessments, activities, and assignments) and submit payment voucher documents to satisfy the grant. 


To participate in the current faculty AL$ opportunities, please complete this interest form.

Contact for any questions.

Find Open Textbooks


  • Search for over 7,500 FREE and OPEN access textbooks and over 92,000 open course materials.
  • Peer-reviewed! 
  • All materials are contributed by MERLOT community members, who have either authored or discovered the materials.

Open Textbook Library

  • Texts are FREE to use and may be edited or remixed to suit course needs.
  • Topics covered include business, education, humanities, natural and social sciences, and more.
  • Supported by the University of Minnesota.


  • FREE materials and texts are available for educators, students, and independent learners to access online.
  • Hosted by Rice University.
  • Peer-reviewed with rigorous editorial process.
  • Materials can be revised, remixed, and redistributed to meet your needs.


  • The three State of California systems of higher education worked together to provide access to FREE and OPEN eTextbooks.  
  • Easy discovery of almost 5,000 free and open eTextbooks within a collection of over 70,000 free and open educational resources.
  • Provides a collection of Course Showcases where faculty, staff, and students can find free and open educational resources aligned with 52 CID courses.


  • Multi-institutional collaborative venture to develop the next generation of FREE and open access texts for STEM, Social Sciences, and the Humanities.

OER Commons

  • Search, browse, and evaluate over 50,000 high-quality FREE resources such as full university courses, interactive mini-lessons and simulations, adaptations of existing open work, and open textbooks.

Skills Commons

  • SkillsCommons’ mission is to accelerate the democratization of education for all through open educational services and resources enabling individuals, communities, educational institutions, organizations, and businesses to prepare people for successful employment in the 21st Century.
  • Free and open digital library of workforce training materials.
  • Over 700 institutions contribute to this repository.

Check out these other free resources below:

Pressbooks is online software that enables authors and publishers to design and format any kind of book. 

Free Teaching and Learning Online Materials This link will take you to an external website in a new tab.

Free PowerPoint Templates This link will take you to an external website in a new tab.

Explore Library and Bookstore Options

Library Resources 📚

Course Reserves

The CSUMB Library purchases print copies for course reserve of all identified textbooks priced over $100 and for all high-DFW courses. To inquire about placing a textbook on course reserve, contact your librarian subject selector(s).


You can also search the CSUMB Library's OneSearch discovery tool to find and curate a suite of library-owned electronic materials for your course, which may include ebooks in whole or part, journal and encyclopedia articles, streaming video, and more. Your librarian subject selector(s) are available to assist you.

Bookstore Solutions 📖

Visit the Campus Store's website for information on lower-cost bookstore solutions, including rentals. The bookstore's adoption tool can help instructors discover low- and no-cost options for courses, including OER.

Current Research

Read current research on open educational resources (OER) and student learning, equity, and success:

→Clinton, V., & Khan, S. (2019). Efficacy of open textbook adoption on learning performance and course withdrawal rates: A meta-analysis. AERA Open.

→Cozart, Deanna, et al. “Rethinking the Traditional Textbook: A Case for Open Educational Resources (OER) and No-Cost Learning Materials.” Teaching and Learning Inquiry, vol. 9, no. 2, 2021, pp. 1–17,

→Griffiths, R., Mislevy, J., Wang, S., Ball, A., Shear, L., & Desrochers, D. (2020). OER at scale: The academic and economic outcomes of achieving the Dream’s OER Degree Initiative. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International. (download report | watch video)

→Hilton, J. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: A review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 573-590.

Saving Students Thousands with Open Access Textbook. (2022, January 3). States News Service, NA.

→Scott, Rachel E., and Anne Shelley. “‘Having a Textbook Locks Me into a Particular Narrative’: Affordable and Open Educational Resources in Music Higher Education.” Notes (Music Library Association), vol. 79, no. 3, 2023, pp. 303–34,

Want to Make College More Affordable for your students? (2020, November 18). States News Service, NA.

CSU Showcases

If you find yourself unsure where to begin, check out the faculty showcases below, where instructors discuss their processes of evaluating their courses and adopting AL$ materials in a variety of disciplines:

Search for courses using low- or no-cost learning materials at California community colleges, and CSU and UC campuses. Find courses by discipline and Common ID Number.

CSU Testimonial Videos about ALS/OER