From The Community College Times
American Association of Community Colleges
By Tabitha Whissemore, Published May 7, 2013

At Tacoma Community College (TCC) in Washington, faculty and staff noticed a trend: fewer students were purchasing the required textbooks for classes.

Instead, students were checking out related materials from the library and trying to recreate information on their own. The students couldn’t afford the hefty textbook costs, and it was affecting classroom performance.

“It hurts their engagement in the classroom, it hurts their ability to stay in school and it leaves them at a bigger disadvantage than they are at already,” said Quill West, open educational resources (OER) project director at TCC.

The college, with the cooperation of faculty and students, made a move toward using OERs. The two-year project began in April 2012 and is supported by student technology fees. The goal was to embed OERs into the 10 classes with the highest enrollments and to save students $250,000.

A year later, 39 sections of 19 individual classes—from biology, to English, to computer courses—use digital materials rather than traditional textbooks. Faculty isn’t required to participate, but the number of teachers using OERs is growing. To date, the college has saved students $266,000.

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