As Barton Community College welcomed the start of 2023, it also welcomed a significant milestone in its efforts to help students save additional dollars. In total, students who have enrolled in classes with no-cost or low-cost course materials have saved over $500,000. These courses are known in higher education as Open Educational Resources (OER).
Director of Innovation and Compliance Lee Miller has spearheaded the OER initiative since its inception in 2019.
“With much anticipation, we did make and surpass the half-million-dollar marker in student savings as of the beginning of this year,” she said. “At this moment, student savings total over $577,000. OER is a tool. It’s not the goal. We are committed to focusing on ongoing OER integration with faculty to improve, invest and advise on course design options and innovative teaching methods.”
At Barton, OER-certified courses are identified with one of three markers:
• No-cost (NC) – No course materials.
• Low-cost (LC) - $50 or less for course material costs.
• Open Textbook (OT) – Courses use an open textbook to remove/reduce textbook costs but may require additional course material expenses above the $50 low-cost threshold.
These markers (NC, LC or OT) are used to notate OER courses for easy identification for students when enrolling.
Cost savings are determined using a conservative estimate of $100 saved per student per textbook or resource per course. Miller said this is an estimate adopted from research that the Kansas Board of Regents OER steering committee also used for a similar proposal.
“As with all good things, things must change and continue to grow,” she said. “With continued instructional support and faculty engagement, we continue to work toward creating low-cost degree options to further address affordability and access to higher education for all students.”