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Open Educational Resources

Austin CC Expands Zero-Textbook-Cost Degrees

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Austin Community College in Texas is expanding its use of open educational resources (OER) in a big way. The school is working on developing a zero-textbook-cost (ZTC) business degree, and last fall, the school launched two "Z-degree" programs: an associate of science in general studies and an associate of arts in general studies. Each program offers a ZTC pathway, which saves students about $2,000 in textbook costs over the duration of the program, according to the college.

The college estimated that since its launch of ZTC in spring 2017, 31,000 students have taken advantage of Z-degree programs. Using an average savings of $100 per textbook, that has resulted in a total savings of almost $3 million. Over that period the number of course sections providing those options has grown from 29 in that first semester to 410 in fall 2018.

Students can search for ZTC sections by course and campus using a sort option in the student planning program.

Now the college is developing a Z-degree for business administration. That's already offered at OER pioneer Tidewater Community College in Virginia.

The State of Texas has also gotten into the act. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has requested a $250,000 allocation from the state for 2020-2021 to develop an open educational repository and hire a person to oversee it. The board has also requested $200,000 for an OER grant program, which would fund additional grants to faculty for the development of OER course materials. Those grants have already been made available, and instructors at Austin CC have been recipients of the funding.

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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