MARCH 25, 2010
The English Department at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College (BRCTC) continues to remove financial barriers for attending college by embracing the use of Open Educational Resources (OER). From January 2006 to July 2016, data has shown the cost of textbooks has risen over 88%, having a direct financial impact on students (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). Educational materials categorized as OER are free in the public domain or use licensing that allows them to be shared or changed at no cost.
Heather Huggett, English Program Coordinator, is leading the charge to reduce the cost for English Students “It was my mission to lower [textbook] costs for students,” said Huggett
With that in mind, Huggett began working to find appropriate textbook selections and readings. Starting with English 101, Huggett surveyed instructors of the English Department. This resulted in a thematic list of readings required in English 101. As a result, English 101 and English 102 have adopted OER, no longer requiring the purchase of a traditional textbook. This has far reaching impacts upon the student body, as most are required to complete one or more English course.
Barbara Runion, a double major BRCTC student, has experienced OER in both English 101 and Economics 205. “Using OER helps save money that I can use elsewhere on my education and it is one less book to carry around,” said Runion. “If more courses adopted OER, I could use the money I saved on textbooks and enroll in an additional course each semester.”
Utilizing OER is just one way that BRCTC is working to reduce the cost of education for all students. Faculty are consciously aware of the high costs of textbooks and course materials for students. As faculty select and adopt their instructional materials for their courses, they select digital and rental options that best suit their needs in instruction and help with textbook affordability for students.
“Cost-effective digital, used, and rental options for students provided a savings of more than $36,000.00 during the fall 2020 semester,” said Jackie Griggs, the chair of the college’s textbook affordability committee. “The Lumen Learning OER options accounted for about $5,000.00 in savings for students in the fall, and the sales represented a 100% increase over the prior fall.”
Most mathematics and several communications courses use the Follett ACCESS program in its textbook adoptions, which provides course material access the first day of classes for students. The cost savings in this program for fall was more than $64,000.00, according to the Follett bookstore. This is one more way that the College continuously finds more affordable options for students.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016, August 30). College tuition and fees increase 63 percent since January 2006. https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/college-tuition-and-fees-increase-63-percent-since-January-2006.htm.