Everyone, from college administrators, faculty and students, are concerned about how much textbooks cost. It’s not uncommon for one book, with the publisher access code, to cost upwards of $300. Many students are making difficult decisions to share or even go without the needed resources and risk their success of passing a course. A popular and growing solution to the high cost of publisher textbooks is Open Educational Resources (OER) and Z - as in Zero Textbook Cost Courses.
OER stands for Open Education Resources. OER are teaching and learning materials that you may freely use and reuse without charge. According to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which has been funding OER grants for the past decade, "OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.” OER materials have a Creative Commons license that specifically states how the material may be used, reused, remixed, adapted, and shared. OER materials could include textbooks, tests, videos, and other materials and tools. OER materials can also be instructor created materials, which are authored and released with a CC license.
OER’s are not e-books. An e-book from a publisher is a book replacement. OER materials are embedded into courses, just like a publisher created textbooks and resources are used, and and are matched to learning outcomes. OER textbooks can also have a print-on-demand feature that students can access for a hard copy print out of a textbook.
Z Courses are gaining momentum in all areas of Higher Ed. Z Courses can incorporate OER’s into the curriculum but may also rely on resources already available to the college and the students. Examples are direct links to articles found in library databases, videos from Atomic Learning, or links to outside resources that are embedded in the courses to support learning outcomes.The college already provides some of these resources and they are freely available to the student, resulting in a zero cost for the course, but they are not considered an OER.
Open Education Resources that are chosen for a course must be evaluated by faculty. Many of these resources have already gone through a peer review process. It is up to the faculty member to decide if the quality of the resource is right for the course.
New York State has decided to invest millions of dollars into open education resources. Inside Digital Learning asked education technology experts if this represents a breakthrough for OER. Read to learn why OER is on the rise.
By making sure that each course includes all of the course materials and resources that students need, we are putting all students on the same level. Each student has equal access to the same information, ensuring fairness and equality among all students enrolled in the OER course.
By eliminating the burden of additional textbook costs for students, the actual cost of taking an OER course is reduced. Often, this is a significant reduction in cost which translates to considerable savings over time. This can result in much lower student debt, making attaining the Associate Degree easier and more valuable.