Open educational resources help students save money – The Connection

In response to a push from Cosumnes River College’s Open Educational Resources Award program, faculty have begun to adopt open educational resources into their courses.

The OER reward program aims to include more zero-cost courses for students using OER as public online textbooks.

Librarian Andi Adkins-Pogue, who is the project manager for the REL rewards program, said the program hopes to help students save money by offering compensation to professors who commit to modifying their courses to use fully OER.

“Part of that is just helping professors understand that the cost of textbooks really does impact our students,” Adkins-Pogue said. “50% of CRC students live below the poverty line or have a low income, so $50 or $100 could be used for groceries, or to help pay their rent, or to help pay for daycare children or the payment of a car. »

The move to OER is not without its bumps, and the question remains whether the effort that professors have to put in to change their courses can be justified.

“It’s much easier in some disciplines than in others, because in some disciplines like chemistry, there are already textbooks that are open and available for teachers. In other disciplines, it’s much more difficult “Said Adkins-Pogue. “An example would be some of our vocational and technical education programs which are very specialized and often have an outside accrediting body which requires specific materials which are simply not available as open educational resource.”

History professor Gregory Beyrer said he started using OER seven years ago and made the switch after realizing the textbooks weren’t as accessible to students as they were to professors.

“I recognized how disconnected I am from the price my students pay for the texts. I know I’m not a student, so I don’t pay tuition or have to worry about financial aid,” Beyrer said. “I recognized that I didn’t have to worry about that at all because as teachers we get free copies of whatever texts we want, and publishers want us to attribute their texts to our Classes.”

Although the level of difficulty may vary from discipline to discipline, OER offers financial savings that many students need.

The 2021 Comprehensive College Price and Student Aid Trends Report showed that students attending public two-year institutions spend an average of $460 on books per year.

Twenty-three-year-old marine biology student Alora Kingsbury cited a similar budget for her own textbooks and shared some of the ways she could use the money instead.

“I wouldn’t have to worry about car maintenance or rent or anything like that because my textbooks can cost $300 to $400 apiece if I needed to buy them new, or they’re $60 or $70, and that’s a full tank of gas,” Kingsbury said.

Some CRC students are forgoing buying or renting textbooks from the bookstore entirely, such as 33-year-old general education major Justin Burns, who said he chose to rent his textbooks from Amazon. Even buying books from a third-party website, Burns said he spent a total of $70 on textbooks this semester.

“I think it would be a much tougher decision for a student who is really working towards a degree that they’re trying to use and also trying to survive as a youngster,” Burns said. “I think my perspective is unique there, but even for me as an older person, it still feels like that money has value.”

While most CRC students might appreciate saving money on textbooks, that’s not the only benefit of the OER program.

A 2020 study by the American Society for Engineering Education found that students who took courses with REL dropped out and failed at lower rates than students who took courses that required the purchase of a textbook.

Beyrer cited cases before switching to OER in which several students’ grades suffered after trying to save money on a required textbook.

“There was a semester where the editor rearranged the chapters and that’s the only change that the new edition brought. And because of that, I got students burned because they were tested on something something they hadn’t read yet,” Beyrer said. “And it’s my fault for not researching the old edition, but it’s also the fault of the publisher of “I did what I thought was a really superficial change. And the worst thing is that students got hurt. I have students whose grades suffered and I felt really bad about it.

Jaden Thomas, an 18-year-old majoring in fire technology, said the OER course he took was “cool” and he liked having easy access to his textbook online.

“I took my first OER course last semester and did pretty well in that course with the free textbook,” Thomas said. “But also, I’m not going to complain, because it was free.”

OER may not be being implemented as quickly as it was in chemistry classes, but Adkins-Pogue said she sees a future for OER at CRC.

“In some departments in some areas, I think it’s realistic and possible and doable right now,” Adkins-Pogue said. “And in others it will take time, and there may be some classes that we can convert, but others that will take longer.”

Students can find current ZTC courses when they register for courses through eServices, and can learn more about ZTC and OER here.

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