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Textbook Affordability and Open Educational Resources (OER)

This guide is an introduction to Open Educational Resources (OER) and efforts to lower student textbook and course material costs at CCC.

What are OER?

Open Educational Resources 

Open Educational Resources (OER) are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open (Creative Commons) license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and reshare them. OER can include:

  • Learning content: full courses, course materials, content modules, learning objectives, collections, journals, etc.
  • Tools: software to support the creation, delivery, use and improvement of open learning content including searching and organization of content, content and learning management systems, content development tools, and online learning communities.
  • Implementation resources: intellectual property licenses to promote open publishing of materials, design-principles, and localization of content.

Benefits of OER

Open educational resources are exciting from both student and faculty perspectives.

Student Perspective

  • Textbook costs have become a barrier for students.
    • The average college textbook costs an estimated $105.37, and the price increases by an average of 12% with each new edition (Education Data Initiative, 2022).
    • Between 1977 and 2015, the cost of textbooks increased by 1,041%, outpacing inflation by 238% (Education Data Initiative, 2022).
  • Textbook prices disproportionately impact community college students:
    • 50% of students report using financial aid for books at community colleges, compared to 28% at 4 year public schools. And, on average, community college students use more financial aid than their peers at 4 year schools (US PIRG, 2016).
    • 2-year institutions have a consistently higher average annual cost of textbooks than 4-year institutions (Education Data Initiative, 2022).

Faculty Perspective: More control over pedagogy.

  • "The real promise of OER is not just the free high-quality learning materials and textbooks. It's the process itself, how materials are created, used, adapted and improved that creates a whole new set of possibilities." ~Lisa Petrides, Ph.D Founder Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education


Blank screen, prefer the HD version, or want Closed Captioning? Watch the YouTube video.
Originally published by intheacademia (2012).

For students:

  • Textbook costs can have negative impacts on academic performance and time to graduation (Florida Virtual Campus, 2016).
  • OER have shown to improve final grades (+8.6%) and reduce drop, fail, and withdrawal (DFW) rates (-2.68%) for all students, but have shown to improve these at higher rates for non-white students (+13%, -5%), Pell-eligible students (+12.3%, -4.4%), and part-time students (+28%, -10%) (Colvard, N., Watson, C., & Hyojin, P., 2018)

For faculty:

  • OER can reduce barriers to authorship, most notably for female and non-full time faculty (Malina Thiede, 2019).

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