Wednesday, March 29, 2017

‘Open Education Resources’ Lowering Cost of College

About 35,000 Salt Lake Community College students have saved nearly $3 million over a three-year period through ‘OPEN SLCC’ by using open educational resources (OER) as an alternative to costly textbooks. The plan, say SLCC officials, is making the difference between some students either being able to attend college or dropping out because of the traditionally expensive price of a higher education made worse by costly textbooks.

About one third of all SLCC students report not purchasing a textbook for a class due to cost while half of all SLCC students say they have registered for fewer classes because of associated textbook costs, according to a 2016 survey by the Open Education Group and the Utah Academic Libraries Consortium. More than 80 percent of SLCC students say they have delayed purchasing a textbook because of cost, and more than 30 percent of SLCC students report not registering for a course due to textbook costs, the 2016 survey found.

“SLCC is using OER to help more students afford a higher education and to succeed once they are in our classrooms,” said Jason Pickavance, director of SLCC’s Educational Initiatives. “Our goal is to empower faculty by turning them and their students on to OER’s growing popularity, ease of access and free or low-cost offerings.”

In 2014 SLCC offered 32 sections of coursework that used OER. SLCC is offering more than 600 class sections that rely on OER for the spring 2017 semester and more than 1,000 sections for the entire year. OER are free or low-cost, high-quality resources for teaching and learning. A bulk of SLCC’s OER offerings come in math and English classes, followed by history, geography, education, biology, business and other courses, with students saving an average of $100 per course.

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