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Open Educational Resources

Saddleback College Reaches 15 Zero-Textbook-Cost Programs

California's Saddleback College is up to 15 zero textbook cost (ZTC) pathways. These are full degree or certificate programs that have no textbook-related costs or fees for online materials, though some classes may require students to buy essentials, such as safety goggles or calculators. Students can identify ZTC courses in the online class schedule by choosing a "zero textbook cost" tag in the filtering feature. Both the fall 2020 and spring 2021 class schedule lists 90-plus individual ZTC courses.

Faculty make the open educational resources — frequently PDFs — available to students as links on class websites or via a download in Canvas, the college's learning management system.

According to one Saddleback student who took several ZTC courses, she was "really happy" to save money and "still receive a quality education with the ZTC classes." In a testimonial for the college, the student noted that "the materials were up-to-date and featured a lot of recent information, which is important for the political science and sociology classes."

Said another, "Sometimes a textbook can be more expensive than the class. One of the textbooks for a non-ZTC class was around $200. I was able to take an extra class with the money I saved from enrolling in a ZTC course instead."

The ZTC pathways include these complete associate degree programs:

  • Communication studies;
  • Economics;
  • History;
  • Political science;
  • Sociology;
  • Economics;
  • Fine arts and humanities;
  • History; and
  • Liberal studies.

Other pathways that are part of the ZTC program include one for associate teacher certification, two for general education certificates and two for aging studies certificates.

The college has estimated that its efforts to adopt OER have saved students $3.7 million over the last three academic years.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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