Promoting Low Cost Textbooks for Community College Students

Stop breaking the bank with high textbook costs and explore some of the free or low cost options promoted by the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCOER). We recently 'attended' a webinar where members of the CCOER met with members of the OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCWC) to talk about how OpenCourseWare and Open Educational Resources can be best used to benefit students and self-learners around the world.

By Stacy Redd

CCCOER Promotes Low-Cost Education

We were excited to find out that the CCCOER has local roots right here in Silicon Valley. It was founded at the Foothill-De Anza Community College District in 2007. The CCCOER began as a meeting of representatives from 20 community colleges, but now consists of over 200 member institutions.

The CCCOER was formed to address a crucial issue in higher education: cost. For many, higher education is cost-prohibitive. Even though community college tuition is much lower than tuition at a four-year institution, students are still required to purchase educational materials such as textbooks for their courses. Textbooks can frequently cost anywhere from $60-120, and these costs can limit the amount of courses students can afford to take. The educators behind CCCOER hope that by creating or re-purposing OERS to produce highly affordable (or free) open textbooks, they can eliminate the financial obstacles that may be keeping students from reaching their goals.

online learning

The Birth of Free, Open Textbooks

Open textbooks are similar to other kinds of OER in that they are open-source materials that can be altered, updated and re-purposed by educators for classroom use. Open textbooks are available for free or at significantly lower cost than traditional textbooks and can be viewed online or in print form.

Using textbooks that can be altered and updated allows faculty members to keep their subject matter fresh and relevant. Traditional textbooks are unchanging, and while different versions can be produced, it is costly to the institution and the student to continue to buy the most recent editions. Open textbooks are completely customizable; faculty members can build upon existing resources to create something that is uniquely designed for a specific student population. Open textbooks are essentially tailored educational resources at a reduced cost -- or no cost at all!

Maintaining Quality While Lowering Cost

The team at CCCOER believes that providing lower cost textbooks doesn't mean sacrificing high quality information. Faculty members can evaluate the quality of open textbooks the same way that they evaluate the quality of traditional textbooks and use the best resources available in their classrooms. Additionally, some OER respositories like Connexions have a built-in evaluation system. Experts review the educational materials submitted to the site, and users can view those reviews when making decisions about which materials to use.

Further Resources for Students

If the idea of low or no-cost textbooks excites you as much as it does us, here are some additional resources you can check out:

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