The Benefits of Affordability

Affordable Instructional Materials...

SF State faculty started out with the goal of making their course materials more affordable and more equitable. In the process, they discovered additional benefits as well.

Affordable instructional materials and open educational resources encourage students to use the materials. They are more relevant and up-to-date. They empower students by engaging their digital literacies. And they give students the flexibility to access their course materials anywhere, anytime.

Affordable materials encourage students to use the materials

Reading materials

“Commercial products are really not necessary in most cases. They’re very, very expensive. It’s adding a burden to our students. A lot of them, frankly, don’t even look at the textbook all that that much. So I think you really how to evaluate how useful and necessary that textbook is in your course.” ~ Nancy Gerber, Chemistry and Biochemistry


“There’s just an obligation…to make the materials affordable because it saves money. But the other is just to encourage students to use the materials. Because it doesn’t make any sense to recommend a five-hundred-dollar book that nobody reads.” ~ Bruce Robertson, Marketing

Affordable materials are engaging, empowering and equitable

Equitable materials

“The digital tools have really allowed for more collaborative learning. When [my students] are able to assert more authority over their learning, they feel a lot more confident, which I find translates really well into their writing, into their reading skills, and it’s just created a much more positive environment in the classroom.” ~ Emma Remick, English Language & Literature

“One of the biggest challenge of making a course affordable is to make sure the content is current and relevant. When linking journal articles, I have to keep that in mind as well as making sure that that context is there…Students are able to engage a very important topic that is related to important equity matters, in a way that’s equitable and helpful to them.” ~ Dawn-Elissa Fischer, Africana Studies

Affordable materials are more relevant, up-to-date, and diverse

Current materials

“These texts were more up-to-date so we were not relying on old textbooks to work through forecasting problems. So we have a course that’s very relevant and current today.” ~Venoo Kakar, Economics

“There is new work and a lot of it is based on the ground up. On Vietnamese refugees, Vietnamese immigrants, writing their own histories and narratives. And scholarship that challenges the grand narrative of American success overseas. There is more comprehensive and up-to-date material that offers a different perspective.” ~ Jonathan Lee, Asian American Studies

Affordable materials online are more convenient and give students greater flexibility

Flexible materials

“So in discussion with students, when asked what I could do to enhance their learning environment, a lot of them asked if I could just post everything on iLearn. So all of these student responses prompted me to move everything from paper to online.” ~ Crystal Wong, English Language & Literature

“Everything I did in the class was integrated into iLearn. This provided greater flexibility to working students. They can access the course materials – the text and the software – anywhere, anytime.” ~Venoo Kakar, Economics

“Anybody on the face of the earth with access to the internet has access to my materials…So I don’t see the impact of this project as only saving money for students. This is a project that’s supposed to help my students for the rest of their careers.” ~ Michael Bar, Economics

Affordable materials are more customizable

“I was not happy with the textbooks out there. Not one textbook covered all the topics that I wanted to cover for this class…So I looked through all the freely available articles and the articles through journals that are available to our students through our library. All these materials I made available to our students through the course management website.” ~ Anoshua Chaudhuri, Economics

“I’ve been able to free myself from the self-imposed but structural components of using a textbook…to become more creative and bring in different kinds of materials into the class and I’m enjoying teaching this semester more…and I think my students are responding to it well.” ~ Jason Mousel, Health Education