Professor of Chemistry Lori Watson recognized as a ‘champion of affordable learning’

Professor of Chemistry Lori Watson has been recognized as a leader in the PALSave textbook affordability initiative sponsored by the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI). The program promotes the use of free open course materials and library e-books.

Watson is one of 10 participants across the state awarded an Open Educator Award for the 2021-22 academic year.  

Lori Watson

“This year’s Open Educator Award recipients have gone above and beyond to help advance student access, which is what OER is all about,” said Amanda Hurford, PALNI’s Scholarly Communications Director and PALSave project lead. “With every single one of PALNI’s 24 supported institutions participating in PALSave, faculty are making a genuine impact on students’ ability to earn a degree. They have built a community of champions for affordable learning, and we’re excited to see their efforts benefit students now and well into the future.”

Thirty-five Earlham faculty members have attended workshops, reviewed open access textbooks or adopted alternative course materials since 2019. These efforts have saved 776 students an estimated $65,359, PALNI says. Nearly 40 percent of Earlham’s student body has been impacted.

“We’re fortunate to have so many early adopters of this initiative who are actively listening to students’ needs and care about their success,” said Karla Fribley, Earlham’s instructional technologies director and seminaries librarian and the faculty liaison for the PALSave program.

“Our faculty are really invested in this topic when they learn more about it,” she said. “We’re seeing the biggest impact in our introductory psychology, science and math courses, which are required for many of our students. We’re seeing an impact in the humanities courses, too. Many of our faculty make a decision on whether to use a textbook in their classes depending on whether we can order an e-book that we can offer in our collections at the library.”

“We’re fortunate to have so many early adopters of this initiative who are actively listening to students’ needs and care about their success.”

Karla Fribley, faculty liaison for the PALSave program

PALSave is supported by Lilly Endowment, Inc. Now in its third year, program participants statewide have saved 13,999 students an estimated $852,351. The average Indiana student benefitting from the program has saved $60.89. Earlham currently leads all PALSave participants with an average of $90 in savings per student.

“Through the PALSave program, PALNI and its supported institutions are making a genuine impact on student success by reducing debt and implementing the use of free, customizable course materials,” Hurford said. “We are so grateful to Lilly Endowment for recognizing this effort, and for enabling us to continue enhancing the learning experience and quality of life for college students across the state.”

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