Open Educational Resources Can Make Your Degree Cheaper

Illustration by Dennis Guirola / elDon

Santa Ana College students searching for cheaper alternatives to their classes may be able to earn their degree through Open Educational Resources and Zero Textbook Cost classes.

OER and ZTC classes aim to keep college affordable by providing alternate opportunity pathways and using teaching and learning materials that are free for public use. At SAC, there are now several hundred OER and ZTC courses available each semester. Students can even earn their associates degree for transfer in Business Administration or their associates degree in Liberal Arts through OER courses with no textbook costs.

“A lot of our students don’t have the means to be able to pay for their tuition and their textbooks, and this allows them to have the money for another class,” Cherylee Kushida, SAC’s Distance Education Coordinator, said.

OER classes began in 2008, with only a few departments participating. They have grown more popular in the years since, and can now be found in most departments on campus. Faculty continue to add new classes and are working to convert old ones. Between the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters, SAC added over 50 OER classes to its schedule. Students can now use WebAdvisor to search available classes by OER designation.

When possible, teachers are moving away from requiring expensive textbooks. Instead they use Canvas or Blackboard to distribute PDFs of textbooks or use online articles and videos as a cheaper alternatives to physical textbooks.

“Classes are very affordable so you don’t have to spend too much money. The teachers are very helpful because they provide resources from their own time,” said SAC freshman Elena Mendez.

Additional reporting by Jason Solares.

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