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Alternatives to Textbooks Helping RCC Students Save Money

Alternatives to Textbooks Helping RCC Students Save Money

RCC faculty members Talia Lipton, Katherine Lynch and Matt Matcovich spoke at a SUNY workshop on Open Educational Resources this fall.

DATE: December 21, 2017

College taking a leading role in use of Open Educational Resources

RAMAPO – Rockland Community College students will save at least $150,000 this academic year thanks to the growing use of alternatives to costly textbooks. A number of RCC professors are using Open Educational Resources (OERs) in a variety of classes this year, with the use of the materials only expected to grow in the near future.

A total of 31 class sections used OER materials in the Fall semester, saving RCC students $67,400 in textbook costs. At least 33 sections will use OERs in the spring, for a projected savings of over $83,000; that number could go even higher.

The movement toward OERs has grown in recent years as textbook costs continue to soar. In the past 40 years, the cost of college textbooks has risen over 800%, more than three times the increase in the cost of living. One survey showed that 65% of college students chose not to buy a textbook because of the cost, even though nearly all of them feared that decision could affect their grade.

Open Educational Resources are defined by the State University of New York (SUNY) as “teaching, learning or research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits repurposing by others.” Faculty can combine or modify OERs to create custom learning materials for their classes; students can access them freely online or, if they prefer, print them at a limited cost.

SUNY received $4 million from the state government this year to promote the development and use of OERs. RCC was awarded $20,000 from that grant to develop OER curriculum and train faculty, and will receive additional dollars for each student enrolled in an OER class section.

RCC faculty members are front and center in the OER movement. Dr. Katherine Lynch and Stephen Burke have developed original modules for an English text, while Talia Lipton has assembled resources for her Speech students and has helped other faculty members convert their own course materials. Matt Matcovich and Kate Erwin are also playing key roles in the effort, which has been strongly supported by the RCC administration.

In September, RCC hosted a number of educators from other SUNY schools for an OER workshop event. A month later, Burke and Lynch were invited to give the keynote address at another SUNY OER workshop.

See more information about open textbooks.