By Robert Cummings
14 March 2018
On 3 November 2017, Northeast Community College extended its partnership with Z-Degree Mississippi by launching an ambitious new expansion of its Z-Degree OER initiative.
Photo: Robert Cummings, CC-BY
Over 12 teachers attended OER training sessions hosted by Elizabeth Spica of Lumen Learning and funded by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. These faculty teach a range of subjects, including College Algebra, Physical Science, American Literature, Elementary Spanish, World Geography, and Principles of Biology. In all, these teachers will develop Open Educational Resources to replace expensive textbooks in 20 courses, and will save their students an estimated $1,095,995 in textbook costs.
How bad is the textbook cost problem? According to information available from the website of the Northeast Mississippi Community College Bookstore, a new copy of the required text for Legal Environment of Business, Business Law Today, sells for $413.00. By comparison, a Mississippi resident who enrolled in Legal Environment of Business would pay $450 in tuition. For that person, the new textbook cost – after sales tax – would almost equal the tuition cost. And if that Mississippian enrolled full-time, and the tuition cost were less, then the $413 new textbook would cost more than the tuition.
Fortunately, the faculty and administrators of Northeast Community College are committed to lowering textbook costs for their students and improving access to higher education. Through the Z-Degree initiative, the community college plans to launch up to twelve two-year degrees which will involve no textbook costs, beginning fall of 2018.
Justin Treloar, who serves as Speech Instructor, began the initiative when he partnered with the existing Z-Degree Mississippi initiative in the spring of 2017.