21 Affordable Content

You can ensure a more inclusive online course experience by considering the overall cost of course materials and working to find ways to reduce these costs for students. Consider working with your subject librarian (Twin Cities, Duluth, Morris, Crookston, Rochester) and the eLearning Support librarians to explore ways to eliminate the need for expensive textbooks wherever it makes sense in your course, including replacing your expensive publisher textbook with:

  • Articles from journals available via subscription at your campus library
  • Open educational resources (OER) –  resources that are available to read at no charge, and have a Creative Commons license, which allows them to be remixed for your context
  • Library eBooks
  • Customized course materials that combine articles, chapters, eBooks, OER, and more (See Course Material Solutions For Instructors)
  • Or a digital textbook from a traditional publisher via an Inclusive Access (all students purchase model) at a greatly reduced price for your students (which still allows students to opt out ).

Affordable content planning can go hand-in-hand with the design of your online course. It can also support more diverse and contemporary perspectives and provide all students with the course material from the first day of class, thereby creating a more equitable learning environment [1].


  1. Jensen, K., Nackerud, S., & Joslin, R. A. (2018). The evolution of affordable content efforts in higher education: programs, case studies, and examples. Minneapolis, MN: M Libraries. https://doi.org/10.24926/86666.0101\

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Guidelines for Online Teaching and Design by TeachingSupport@UMN.edu and Faculty Development for Online Teaching task group is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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