ACC Experts: Saving Money on Textbooks

ACC Experts Saving Money on Textbooks

The cost of textbooks and other course materials add up quickly. Austin Community College District (ACC) experts share how faculty are creating both Zero Cost Textbook and Open Educational Resource (ZTC/OER) courses to help save students money. To date, ACC students enrolled in these classes have saved more than $12 million in textbook costs and related fees!

Written by: Courtney Grams, Director of Faculty Communications

Do you remember receiving a class syllabus, starting to look up the required textbook, and discovering you’d not only have to wait for your textbook to ship, but you’d also need to shell out another $100-$300 of extra costs for your education? That moment is a shock that many students don’t expect, and often a barrier for success in a course. That moment is easily preventable with the use of Zero Textbook Cost and Open Educational Resources (ZTC/OER) in college courses. 

“Open Educational Resources really enables students to not worry about the cost of the textbook. They are ready from day one. They can start and begin their education, they can start learning, really digging deep into that content and becoming familiar without the worry of, ‘will my book get here on time?’ ‘oh my goodness, I didn’t realize it was going to cost that much.’”

-Dr. Shasta Buchanan, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs

Zero textbook cost (ZTC) courses may include freely accessible online materials, school library resources, or open educational resources (OER). Texas Senate Bill 810 (SB 810) defines OER as: “‘Open educational resource’ means a teaching, learning, or research resource that is in the public domain or has been released under an intellectual property license that permits the free use, adaptation, and redistribution of the resource by any person. The term may include full course curricula, course materials, modules, textbooks, media, assessments, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques, whether digital or otherwise, used to support access to knowledge.” In short, ZTC/OER = Money Saved.

Students can use saved funds to pay rent, groceries, bills, purchase technology to support their learning, and even enroll in more college courses.

Benefits & Beyond: Positive Implications for Student Success

ZTC/OER courses do so much more than simply save students money. Students get early access to the materials without having to wait on a book to ship, supporting their persistence through the course. At ACC, ZTC and OER options have consistently resulted in higher course success rates (3%) and higher persistence rates (2.6%), and these trends continue as the courses grow in popularity among students. View infographic 

Additionally, because OER materials are so adaptable, faculty can revise and remix the content to better meet the course learning outcomes, ensure inclusive and accessible content, and keep them updated with current research and events. OER are dynamic, and often digital, so students can dive deeper into links and resources beyond the provided texts. Some faculty members even have students contribute to OER, so they are now creating the learning resources, not simply consuming them. Faculty report that students are frequently appreciative of the use of OER and excited to utilize them.

“OER gives us an opportunity to package information in ways that contemporary learners get their information. In this current age where flexibility and customization and timeliness becomes so important, textbooks are just not a technology that can keep up with that. I think OER can be a step toward creating more creative, more dynamic, personalized learning experiences.”

-Dr. Wayne Butler, Department Chair & Professor, Business, Government, and Technical Communications

How Professors Can Get Started with ZTC/OER

“This notion of open educational resources is close to my heart. I believe it’s not only to enhance the learning experience for a student, but for an educator as well.”

-Sadaf Sajjad, PhD, Adjunct Professor, Psychology

ACC faculty are encouraged to complete an ACC-specific training, ACC Learn OER. Authored by Carrie Gits, ACC’s Head Librarian at the Highland Campus and OER team leader, this set of modules introduces faculty to OER basics. Learn more about OER at ACC.

Texas Learn OER was adapted by DigiTex for a statewide audience from ACC Learn OER. Texas Learn OER was recognized in 2021 with an OE Global Open Education Award for Excellence and featured as an official #OEweek 2022 resource.

Both trainings are a set of ten openly licensed, self-paced modules for faculty, staff, and administrators in higher education. Anyone can earn a certificate of completion –– for free! 

Our #1 Tip for Students

Z-Degree classes use ZTC and OER. Students can take an individual Z-Degree class or make them an essential part of their degree plan. Look for “ZTC” and “OER” tags in the course schedule the next time you register for classes!

Explore how ACC and others are making education more accessible during Open Education (OE) Week 2022 March 7-11. OE Week is a global event that seeks to raise awareness of free and open educational resources and the benefits they bring to teachers and learners. Around the world, libraries, colleges, and universities are participating in a variety of activities and events to celebrate #OEweek.