Digital Learning, Real Savings

Whiteboards Tell a Story

Handwriting on a whiteboard placed in a common area at one of five colleges in the Alamo Colleges District helps illustrate the impact of millions of dollars of textbook cost savings on the lives of local students.

“We set up the whiteboard during an event to help our students understand how they could benefit from this type of program,” says Phillip Anaya, Coordinator of Digital and Open Educational Resources at Alamo Colleges.

“We posted two questions,” Phillip says. “’How much money have you spent on textbooks recently?’ and ‘If you saved that money, how could you use it elsewhere?’”

He remembers one woman’s answer to the first question.

“She was a single parent and knew the exact amount of money she’d spent,” Phillip says. “It was something like $364.17.”

He says people like her answered the second question by listing things that included: childcare, interview clothes, diapers, food, car maintenance, and family vacations.

“That really stuck with me,” Phillip says.

Real Savings

Students at Alamo Colleges come from a variety of backgrounds.

Some are taking early college courses while in high school. Others are coming directly out of high school. Some are active duty service members. Others are enrolled in vocational development programs.

All of them have access to a variety of digital curriculum resources, like the 65,000 students who are using them in around 2,700 courses.

So far, these products have saved students more than $3.5 million in textbook costs.

Ahead of the Curve

“Alamo was one of our first partners to implement an inclusive access model and make it into a key institutional initiative,” says Gretchen Otoshi, Account Executive for Pearson Partnerships.

“Alamo’s  program has really matured and that growth has been very faculty and student focused,” she says, “Not surprisingly faculty are now recommending it to each other.”

Between Fall 2017 and Fall 2018, 100 classes were added to the inclusive access system.

“Other schools add a handful at a time, but Alamo’s focus on student affordability and actions to back up that focus is what sets Alamo growth apart from other programs,” Gretchen says. “Inclusive access has not only become an extremely popular option on campus, but Phillip’s role championing student affordability and value is the difference.”

“We want to make sure we provide what students and teachers want and need,” Phillip says.

Accordingly, he has been visiting classes to solicit live feedback about the digital curriculum options.


‘Changing the Way Learners Learn’

“We’re saving students money,” Phillip says, “and there’s an additional benefit to inclusive access.”

“Students have their class materials on day one with these digital resources,” he says. “That’s a big change from before when they might not buy a textbook until one or two weeks into the class.”

“Teachers used to delay their lessons,” he says. “Now, day one access means these classes can get started right away.”

Phillip says more students are taking advantage of digital resources every new term.

“It’s changing the way learners learn,” he says, “and it’s changing the way teachers teach.”