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The Lookout | September 22, 2019

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OER helps students save on books

OER helps students save on books
  • On October 20, 2017

The cost of textbooks can provide a significant barrier for college students.

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for a student to fork over $200 or more for a single textbook. That means throughout the year, students can be spending roughly $1,000 on textbooks alone.

In an attempt to save students money, the Board of Trustees at Lansing Community College recently approved $500,000 in funding to support the use of open education resources (OER) in several courses.

OER’s are free learning materials that can be reused, revised and redistributed.

“The goal of the OER program is to reduce educational costs for students by providing free or low-cost learning materials that are available from day one of their class and customizable to fit their learning needs,” said OER Project Manager Regina Gong.

“Another important goal is to encourage and support faculty exploration and innovation in finding new, better and less costly ways to deliver quality learning materials to students.”

The OER initiative, which started at LCC in the fall of 2015, has already saved students almost $1.1 million in textbook costs, according to an LCC press release.

This semester, LCC has 74 faculty in 27 different courses using OER. Psychology Professor Sharon Hughes is one of them.

“We decided to switch to an OER for all sections of PSYC 200 last fall,” Hughes said.

“We decided to switch for a variety of reasons, but primary among them was cost. The books that we used in the past cost about $200 … this was just prohibitively expensive for students.”

After evaluating several options, Hughes said she found an OER through OpenStax, which offers students plenty of options.

“Students can access the book for free online, download a PDF, purchase it for $4.99 through iBooks, or if they want a hard copy they can buy a hardcover edition for $34.99 on Amazon,” she said.

For Philosophy Professor Matthew VanCleave, using OER’s has improved the quality of his teaching.

“As a professor, I find that I do my best teaching when I myself am learning,” VanCleave said. “The process of adapting and creating OER’s has stimulated my own thought about the various topics I teach, and it enables me to approach those topics with fresh, new content that is my own.”

Courses that are using OER will be mentioned in MBS (online bookstore). Students will be able to access the materials they need online through D2L.

For more information about the OER Program visit

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