In 2017, the City University of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY) systems received funding to adopt Open Education Resources (OER) for many courses offered. This funding was awarded in response to librarian requests at both institutions and was adopted in 2,800 Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) courses impacting 76,000 students and resulting in $9.5 million saved on textbook costs. CUNY recently published the results of a survey their students to see what they thought about using the OER materials for their coursework.

The materials for ZTC classes were entirely digital which marks a change in the typical paper textbooks that students previously used for class. However, three-quarters (76%) of the students surveyed rated their ZTC materials easier to access than materials for prior courses. Out of these students, 4 in 10 (40%) cited the convenience of being able to use their ZTC materials anywhere, at any time, from any device as why they are easier to access. Almost a quarter (23%) said that all their materials being online or on Blackboard make them easier to access, and about 1 in 8 (12%) cited the fact that all the materials are free as why they are easier to access.

Using digital materials did not seem to impact students’ learning. One in five (20%) survey respondents accessed their ZTC course materials before the semester started, indicating high engagement with learning resources. Two-thirds (66%) of the respondents said that they feel they learn as well with digital materials as with print, and two-thirds (65%) also responded that they completed all of their readings for the course. Nearly all (95%) respondents said that they would recommend taking a ZTC course to other students.

The full report can be found here.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.