Student reading on tablet

Something to consider as you start to think about summer and fall teaching: Expensive textbooks can be a significant barrier to student success. Seven out of 10 students report not purchasing required textbooks, and 60% of students delay purchasing them until their financial aid is available. In situations where an open textbook can work for a course, adoption allows for early and consistent access to course materials and significantly decreases withdrawal rates in participating courses.

Open textbooks are funded, licensed, and published to be freely distributed and adapted. Open textbooks are available in a variety of disciplines and available digitally for no cost. Print copies are typically available on demand for a low cost. And they work.  At UWM, instructors teaching Psych 101 adopted an OpenStax CNX textbook, saving students more than $1M in textbook purchases so far. Further, the DFW rate for the course has dropped by six percentage points.

Students can search for classes that have adopted open and affordable textbooks (less than $25) in the Schedule of Classes. To flag your course in the schedule of classes, have your department schedule builder assign the “No/Low Cost” attribute to your section(s).

Have you already adopted a no or low-cost textbook in your course? If the total cost of course materials for your course is less than $25, we want to hear from you! Please fill out this brief survey and let us know which courses and sections you are teaching with affordable resources.


  • UWM’s Open Educational Resources Guide. This guide helps instructors identify open textbooks and open educational resources and contains information about UWM’s Open Textbook initiative.
  • UWM’s Open Textbook and Open Educational Resource Adoption Project. Note that there are still funds available to help with adoption of an open textbook in multiple sections of a large enrollment course.
  • OpenStax CNX. OpenStax gives educators and students access to tens of thousands of educational pages that can be downloaded as preexisting textbooks or remixed by teachers into a unique collection designed specifically for their classroom.
  • 7 Things You Should Know About Open Education Content. The 7 Things You Should Know About series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides concise information on open education content, describing what it is, where the technology is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning.


Colvard, N. B., Watson, C. E., & Park, H. (2018). The impact of open educational resources on various student success metrics. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30(2), 262-276.

Clinton-Lisell, V., Legerski, E. M., Rhodes, B., & Gilpin, S. (2021). Open Educational Resources as tools to foster equity. In Teaching and Learning for Social Justice and Equity in Higher Education (pp. 317-337). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.