By Steven Adamo
The high-cost of textbooks is one of many topics of discussion during Open Access Week, with workshops held today and Thursday at the Helen Miller Bailey library.
During the workshops, librarian Cynthia Mari Orozco will discuss Open Educational Resources (OER).
“OER are openly licensed materials that are free to use,” Orozco said.
These materials are syllabi, assignments, tests, projects and free, or low-cost, textbooks.
A 2014 study by the Student Public Interest Research Group revealed that students base their course decisions on cost of materials and avoid taking classes that require expensive course materials.
One student, who asked to remain anonymous, said that they take photos of the homework assignments from the book and print them out in the library in order to save money.
“The math book alone is $170,” the student said. Most OER textbooks are free with print options commonly available, usually between $29 to $65.
Two years ago, the California College Textbook Affordability Act was passed.
The law provides incentives for campuses to adopt open educational resources, though few professors at ELAC are using OER textbooks in their curriculum.
“From a student perspective, it might sound pretty easy for faculty to immediately adopt an open textbook, but there are a lot of obstacles, such as completely redesigning a course’s curriculum, technological hurdles, and understanding how licenses work,” Orozco said.
Dr. Eileen Ie, associate professor of Sociology, is one of the teachers on campus that have adopted OER into their curriculum.
“The reason I adopted (OER) was the quality of its content,” Ie said.
“Its also very critical and more nuanced than a general Introduction to Sociology textbook.”
The new OER textbook is free and available on the first day of class, whereas the previous Sociology textbook costs approximately $150.
Some colleges have gone beyond using OER materials in classes and are creating entire degrees around them.
A “zero-textbook-cost degree,” or “Z-degree,” is a degree obtained through Open Educational Resources.
When Tidewater Community College in Virginia implemented their first two-year Z-Degree for business, students saved nearly $3,700 in textbook fees.
Groups like Open Oregon and Maricopa Millions educate students and colleges alike on the benefits of OER.
On Twitter, Maricopa Millions encourages students to share their stories about how they will spend the money they save from increasing textbook costs.
Groups like the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development help governments of 30 democracies address economic, social and environmental issues with the use of OER.
The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development website says that they “provide a setting where governments can compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and work to co-ordinate domestic and international policies.”
Upcoming Open Access Week workshops will be held today from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the ELAC library and tomorrow from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the South Gate campus library.
For more information on Open Educational Resources, visit http://researchguides.elac.edu/oer or #GoOpen on Twitter.