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Open Educational Resources & Affordable Course Materials

The high price of course materials impacts both students and faculty at COCC. On this page, learn more about open educational resources (OER), finding textbooks for students, and lowering the cost of course materials for faculty.

Making Education Affordable: How Instructors Can Help Lower Textbook Costs

No-cost and low-cost materials not only make post-secondary education more accessible to all students, they also allow instructors to provide subject-specific, easily updatable materials for their courses. As a result of HB2871 and HB2213, Oregon colleges and universities are required to “prominently designate courses whose course materials exclusively consist of open or free textbooks or other low-cost course materials” at the point of registration, along with the implementation of a textbook affordability plan.

COCC supports the academic freedom of faculty and instructors to select high-quality course materials for our courses and is committed to expanding the use of Open Education Resources and other no- or low-cost materials across the curriculum to increase equity and access for all students. Open Education Resources are already playing a significant role in addressing equity and access to high-quality, openly licensed, digital materials.

Explanation of COCC Bookstore Terms

No-cost vs. Low-cost

No-cost courses use course content that is provided by the instructor at no expense to the student via Open Education Resources (OER), instructor-created digital course packs, or other free materials.

Low-cost courses include materials such as textbooks, trade books, or other text-based materials that cost less than $50 total for the course. If a course offers a free digital course pack with the option for students to purchase a physical copy, that course would still be considered no-cost.

Bookstore Markup

The COCC Bookstore is operated as a standalone enterprise by the college and is required to increase textbook pricing to cover operational costs.stack of books

Typically, the bookstore markup is 15% to 20% over the publisher’s cost, meaning that texts at a cost of $40 will be priced at $50 and will meet the low-cost designation.

Options for Low-Cost/No-Cost Course Materials

Open Educational Resources are free, openly-licensed materials for teaching and learning. OERs can include lesson plans, videos, assessments, worksheets, games, and even entire textbooks that can be accessed digitally for free or printed for a low cost. Most OERs can be customized and remixed to meet the needs of the instructor and class. For more information on finding and creating OERs, see the Open OER page on this guide, the Open Oregon Educational Resources website, or OER Commons.

Additional Resources for Finding OERs:

The doctrine of Fair Use allows the use of copyrighted materials for teaching, scholarship, and more. For more information on fair use, copyright, and open licensing, please see the Barber Library Copyright Resources page.

Course packs are materials created by instructors and are usually distributed through the institution’s Learning Management System. They can be printed by COCC’s Copy & Mail Services if needed.

The cost for course packs is determined by the number of pages (approximately 26 cents for each double-sided, 3-hole punched page—higher for color copies), and whether or not the printed materials are required or optional. When printing course materials is optional, the cost of printing is not included in the cost calculation for the low-/no-cost designation.

Used textbooks are often available at a considerable discount through the COCC Bookstore, or through third-party sellers like Amazon or Better World Books. If the COCC Bookstore has used copies of a textbook, the used option will be displayed automatically when a student accesses the bookstore textbook list. However, if a publisher has recently released a new edition of a textbook, the availability of used copies of the new edition will be limited, so students might be forced to pay full price for a new copy. If the edition of the textbook you are using is brand new, consider allowing students to substitute the previous edition so they will have greater access to used copies. Contact the COCC Bookstore to learn how you can order older or multiple editions of textbooks for your classes.

Digital textbooks can often be less expensive than physical textbooks, but they come with their own pros and cons. Accessing and using the digital textbook technology and software might be easy and accessible for some students, but create a barrier for other students.

Also, some digital textbooks have limited licenses that expire after a period of time, so students might need to “buy” the textbook again. If the textbook you use has a digital version, it will be offered as an option automatically in the COCC Bookstore listing. Instructors can adopt either or both digital or physical course materials. The bookstore can also sometimes offer both rental or lifetime options for digital course materials.

Renting textbooks refers to the practice of paying to rent a physical or digital textbook for a specified period of time and returning it at the end of the rental period. Renting textbooks is often much less expensive for students than purchasing textbooks. Textbook rentals are available through third-party sellers like Amazon, which offers choice in rental periods, and other textbook rental websites. Even if an edition of a textbook is brand new, it will often be available to rent through third-party sellers.

Trade books are fiction and non-fiction books published by commercial publishers and meant for general audiences. Professional books are published by professional organizations for readers in that profession. Trade and professional books are often much less expensive than textbooks, and many are available as e-books, increasing choice and access for students. Depending on the subject and class you are teaching, you might be able to find a trade or professional book to supplement other course materials like OERs, course packs, or your own materials. The COCC Bookstore can easily order trade and professional books directly from publishers and have them available for your students. Further, some trade and professional books are already available or can be acquired through COCC’s Barber Library as e-books that students can access for free.

Instructors can link to any article or eBook available in the library collection as course materials.

Another temporary alternative is to use the Barber Library Course Reserves Service, which is the process of placing educational resources like an article, textbook, DVD, course pack, etc. at the circulation desk for student use in the library. This could be beneficial for students who need to use those course materials occasionally or only portions of the text, but it likely would not work as a whole text for an entire class, as items on course reserve are often of a limited quantity and can only be checked out for a brief period of time. For more information on this process, see Barber Library’s Course Reserve webpage.

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This guide by COCC Barber Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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