PPSC is making college even more affordable by offering Open Educational Resources
(OER). PPSC saved its students around $400,000 in textbook costs during the last academic
year and plans to keep increasing those savings over time.
Textbook costs are soaring and the lion's share of the profit stays with the book publishers. Currently, students can pay up to $400 for a given textbook.
"Every time I meet with students, they ask why textbooks are so expensive," says PPSC President Lance Bolton. "Clearly, this is a significant barrier students face."
The Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) recently awarded $550,000 in grants this year to help Colorado colleges with OER development efforts. PPSC received $40,000, the largest award of any community college in the state.
Open educational resources (OER) are publicly accessible, openly licensed, and usually digital educational materials. These materials can be freely used, adapted, offered in print form, and shared with little or no restrictions.
This gives faculty the opportunity to adapt materials specifically tailored to their subject and teaching style while providing students with a more affordable option.
Aside from reducing textbook costs, research has shown that OER benefits students by increasing retention and grades and by providing a higher level of learning that can only be achieved by adapting and contributing to the learning materials themselves.
Marc Nash, PPSC's OER Specialist/Coordinator, helped secure the grant money and has been working with PPSC faculty to access and refit these free resources for their courses.
"We've tripled the amount of OER courses offered this academic year and will be saving students $2 million in textbook costs," says Nash.
Established in 1968 and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, PPSC offers associate degrees, certifications in career and technical fields, and two bachelors’ degrees. With three campuses, various off-campus locations, two military education centers, and hundreds of online classes, PPSC provides access to a quality, affordable and flexible education to more than 20,000 students annually with both credit and non-credit classes.