College News

Barton Community College reaches 50 classes with reduced or eliminated textbook costs

December 17, 2021
Story by Brandon Steinert

Students who would have already saved thousands of dollars by attending Barton can also save hundreds more thanks to an effort by the faculty to transition to no-cost materials or affordable texts. The concept is known in higher education as Open Educational Resources (OER).

According to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation website, Open Educational Resources are “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the creative commons and/or public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their use and repurposing by others. OER may include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests (etc) used to support access to knowledge.”

At Barton, OER-certified courses are labeled with one of three markers:

  • No-cost (NC) – No course material costs for the student.
  • Low-Cost (LC) – $50 or less for course material costs.
  • Open Texbook (OT) – Courses use an open textbook to remove/reduce textbook costs, but may still require additional course material expenses above the $50 Low-Cost threshold.

All of these markers (NC, LC, or OT) are used to notate OER courses for easy identification when enrolling.

Barton formally began the process in 2019 and since then has completed its OER 3-Year-Plan a semester ahead of schedule.

“This approach to classroom resources has many advantages beyond cost savings for the student,” said Barton Director of Innovation & Compliance Lee Miller, who is leading the OER charge. “At the end of the day saving money is a byproduct of what we are really striving for. The foundation for the initiative has become a bit of a tagline: ‘OER is a tool, it is not the goal.’ Our focus is still on teaching and learning. With that our goals are two-fold: assisting faculty with their instructional goals and recognizing their opportunity to explore ‘authentic instructional freedom,’ and supporting students by making education more affordable and accessible.”

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