THE “Z-DEGREE”

:

Removing Textbook Costs as a Barrier
to Student Success through an
OER-Based Curriculum

The “Z-Degree”:
Removing Textbook Costs as a
Barrier to Student Success
through an OER-Based Curriculum
ABSTRACT
In August 2013, Tidewater Community College became the first regionally accredited college in the U.S.
to pilot an Associate of Science degree that allows a student to expend $0 on textbooks. The combined
efforts of a 13-member faculty team, staff and administration created what is now known as the
“Z-Degree.”

PRESENTERS
Dr. Daniel T. DeMarte, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer
Ms. Linda S. Williams, Professor of Business Administration

PRESENTED TO
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Hosted by SPARC at the New Venture Fund Building
February 11, 2015
Washington, D.C.

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PROGRAM SUMMARY
The College Board estimates annual textbook costs at $1,168 so it is not surprising that a recent study by
U.S. PRIG found that 78% of students admit to having forgone a textbook at least once due to cost.
In January 2013, Tidewater Community College began the process to become the first college in the
U.S. to create an Associate of Science degree based entirely on openly licensed content. The combined
efforts of a 13-member faculty team, college staff and administration culminated on August 22nd when
more than 420 students enrolled in the first 16 “Z-courses.” Cumulatively, these students reduced total
expenditures by over $68,000.00.
The goals of this initiative have been twofold: 1) to improve student success, and 2) to increase
instructor effectiveness. Courses were stripped down to the Learning Outcomes and rebuilt using openly
licensed content, reviewed and selected by the faculty developer based on its ability to facilitate student
achievement of the objectives. As a result, these 21 courses are an amalgamation of over 200 distinct
OER sources.
Creating these 21 courses required a collaborative effort among every functional area of the college. The
logistical challenges of launching 21 Z-courses simultaneously across four campus locations were daunting
given that TCC is the 11th largest public two-year college in the nation, enrolling nearly 44,000 students
annually. Senior administrators were adept at addressing the complexities, thus allowing the faculty team
to focus on course creation. Once launched, considerable effort was expended to design a process by
which the effectiveness of these courses could be evaluated.
Instruments are in place to collect data to evaluate student experiences, persistence and success.
Students receive a summative survey in the last week of each semester and the data are folded back into
the project development process. At the conclusion of each semester, an analytics tool pulls data directly
from the LMS (Learning Management System) on learning outcomes, content engagement and course
design to assist faculty in the continuous course improvement process. Furthermore, students from across
the Z-Degree have participated in a series of focus groups to collect qualitative data on their experience.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that students in the Z-courses are adapting well to their lack of “traditional”
course materials, which is supported by the fact that at mid-semester fall 2013, the Z-Degree has
aggregate retention of 90.4%.
On an institutional level, enrollment and student data are being collected and analyzed to identify those
courses most appropriate for conversion to Z-course status. In January 2014, a second cohort of faculty
was invited to attend training on licensing and open content adoption. A third party will conduct this
training on-site; however, efforts are currently underway to create an in-house “Z-course” training program
that can be implemented on a rolling schedule.

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With obstacles overcome, analytics in place and students enrolled, the challenge is to scale the project in
a way that makes sense from both a student and organizational standpoint. Moving forward, the project will
address issues such as faculty support, delivery methodology via strategic LMS selection, the economic
impact of long-term OER adoption, policy and resource implications, as well as integration with systemwide OER initiatives.
In Spring 2015, 39 sections of Z-courses will be offered with a target enrollment of 900 students and
$90,000 in cost savings. In the long term, the principal project goal will remain unchanged and that is
that all students will have an equal opportunity to engage and succeed from the very first day of class.

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iii

NEEDS AND
RATIONALE

NEEDS AND RATIONALE

The cost of college textbooks has risen 812 percent since 1978, more than
the rates of inflation, health care, new home prices, and college tuition.
(Kingkade, 2013)

More and more, college students are unable to afford their textbooks, and as many as 70 percent of
students have reported avoiding buying at least one textbook for their courses. A recent survey at Old
Dominion University in Norfolk revealed that nearly one in five ODU students are attending classes without
the benefit of textbooks (The Virginian-Pilot, Dec. 30, 2013). Not surprisingly, these students do not do as
well academically (Rethink).

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While TCC has worked with its bookstore partner to minimize the financial burden of textbooks on students
by introducing eTexts and rental options, the financial challenge for our students remains high. For
example, 11,177 students bought textbooks in Fall 2013 through TCC’s bookstore partner using financial
aid resources. The charges totaled over $3.2 million, with the average charge being $290.25. As of May
2013, if a TCC student purchased all of the textbooks required for a business administration degree,
that student would spend $3,678.95 on new books. While used textbooks may lower this price, their
availability is, at best, uneven.
But the problem with printed textbooks goes beyond financial cost; textbooks “cost” students and teachers
in other ways as well.
Because textbooks are frequently written for broad audiences in the hopes that they will fill the learning
support needs and be adopted by large numbers of faculty and departments, they are filled with content
and exercises that are superfluous to a specific course’s learning outcomes. At best, the faculty member
who is focused on content directly supporting the course’s outcomes must skip significant portions of
the textbook. At worst, a faculty member may rely on the textbook’s content, not the learning outcomes,
to organize and teach a course. In either situation, faculty who want to individualize or update learning
content must supplement. The cost here is in teaching efficiency and effectiveness.
Fortunately a solution to both problems exists.
In 2002, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sparked the Open Educational Resources movement
(OER) with the OpenCoursewareProject, putting virtually all of MIT’s course content online. Shortly
thereafter, the term “Open Educational Resources” was adopted by the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at its 2002 Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for
Higher Education in Developing Countries. Since then, tens of thousands of Open Educational Resources
have been developed across the U.S. and the world and shared by hundreds of colleges, universities, and
organizations dedicated to making education accessible and attainable.
Despite the success of OER, too few colleges or universities have pushed the envelope in determining the
full potential of OER in teaching and learning. Individual faculty or departments may choose to replace
their textbooks with OER (with an enormous collective savings for students); however, until TCC’s Z-Degree,
no college or university in the U.S. had gathered the diversity of OER resources and developed a faculty
team that could produce an entirely textbook-free degree.

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Beginning in Fall 2013, TCC became the first regionally accredited college in the U.S. to create an
Associate of Science degree based solely on openly licensed content. The rationale was twofold:
• To improve student success through increased access and affordability;
• To improve teaching efficiency and effectiveness through the ability to focus, analyze, augment, and
evolve course materials directly aligned to course learning outcomes.

Allen, N. (2012). Pushing for Open Education Resources, Lower Textbook Costs. Virginia Community College System—
Chancellor’s Planning Retreat, August 2012, http://rethink.vccs.edu/planning-retreat-2012/
Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries,
http://www.unesco.org
Kingkade, T. (2013). College Textbook Prices Increasing Faster Than Tuition and Inflation. The Huffington Post, January 4, 2013.
www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/04/college-textbook-prices-increase_n_2409153.html
MIT OpenCourseWare, Free Online Course Materials, http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
Rethink: Reengineering Virginia’s Community Colleges,
http://rethink.vccs.edu/pushing-for-open-education-resources-lower-textbook-costs/
Sizemore, Bill (2013). A textbook case of students not having enough money. The Virginian Pilot, December 30, 2013.
http://hamptonroads.com/2013/12/textbook-case-students-not-having-enough-money

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HISTORY

2012
AUGUST
Dr. Daniel DeMarte, TCC vice president for academic affairs and
chief academic officer, attends the Virginia Community College
System (VCCS) Chancellor’s annual retreat and hears David Wiley,
president of Lumen Learning, comment that no college or university
was offering a degree exclusively using OER.

SEPTEMBER
Linda Williams, TCC professor of business administration, agrees
to serve as the faculty lead for the project; Dr. Kimberly Bovee,
associate vice president for college readiness, agrees to serve as
the lead for the Project Advisory Committee.
TCC contacts David Wiley and Kim Thanos of Lumen Learning to
help TCC launch the Z-Degree pilot. Lumen’s expertise includes
identification of existing OER content, faculty training, ensuring
proper attribution of content, and development of course
analytics.

OCTOBER

OCTOBER - NOVEMBER
The faculty team is selected
and includes full-time and
adjunct professors.

Data from TCC’s Office of Institutional
Effectiveness and information on available
OER materials help guide the selection
of the Associate of Science in business
administration as the pilot Z-Degree,
including required and elective courses.

TIMELINE
JANUARY
Lumen provides initial training session for the faculty team on
accessing OER and building a cohesive course based on diverse
OER offerings.
UNTIL MAY 2013
Faculty team members begin selecting appropriate OER to
support the learning outcomes of each course. Professor Williams
and Lumen Learning provide faculty support, including locating
OER and helping faculty build the courses.

2013

ZERO TO “Z” IN 12 MONTHS
The spark for the Z-Degree was ignited in August,
2012 and moved from idea to implementation in a
period of less than 12 months.
FEBRUARY
The Project Advisory Committee (consisting of deans, student services
representatives, technology support, and key stakeholders) is established to
coordinate advising students, loading courses into TCC’s student information
system, and ensuring project success beyond the courses themselves.
MARCH
The fall schedule of Z-courses is coordinated across the college’s four
campuses to allow a student to take a full schedule of Z-Degree courses.
Course delivery includes online as well as on-campus courses.

APRIL
Professor Williams makes presentations at all four TCC campuses
to provide an overview of the pilot project to faculty.
JUNE
TCC’s public announcement of the Z-Degree pilot (initially referred
to as the “OpenTCC” project) receives widespread news coverage.
All students who are seeking an A.S. degree in Business
Administration are sent a letter briefly explaining the Z-Degree
and announcing special information sessions at each campus.
The letter is followed up by an email.

UNTIL JULY
Cohorts of newly created Z-courses with OER content are reviewed by Lumen
Learning to ensure proper attribution and correct licensing. This “scrub” process
is the last step before the courses are ready to launch. Faculty team revises
courses to optimize learning outcomes and use of OER.
TCC presents Z-Degree pilot at Open Leadership Conference in Denver.
Each campus hosts an information session for students. Information
sessions include what students should be prepared for, what Open
Education Recourses are and are not, faculty expectations for students
taking Z-courses, and how to register for the Z-courses. Course outcome
alignments loaded in Z-course templates.

JULY
Registration begins for Fall 2014
Z-courses.
AUGUST
Faculty convocation includes presentation by Professor Williams
on Open Educational Resources and the Z-Degree pilot.

Z-DEGREE // TIDEWATER COMMUNITY COLLEGE

TCC presents the Z-Degree pilot to
the Jobs for the Future Educational
Policy Summit in Miami.

THE Z-COURSES LAUNCH.

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2013
OCTOBER
All students who attended the orientation sessions are surveyed,
whether or not they decided to take a Z-course.

Faculty meet to debrief and work on scheduling the Spring 2014
Z-courses. The spring schedule of the Z-courses is coordinated across
the college’s four campuses to allow a student to take full schedule of
Z-courses. Course delivery includes online as well as on-campus courses.
Twenty-five sections of Z-courses are scheduled for Spring 2014.

NOVEMBER
Students begin registering for the Spring 2014 Z-courses; Within
48 hours of registration opening, Z-courses are at 50.5% of
capacity without advertisement or promotion.

Members of the faculty team attend the international Open Educational
Conference in Park City, Utah. Z-Degree is selected to participate in
closing keynote as one of 15 “high impact” OER projects of 2013.

DECEMBER
As the fall semester comes to an end, all students in the
Z-courses are surveyed for feedback on their experience with
a 44.79% response rate.

Analytics are pulled from the LMS to analyze strength of alignment
between content and assessment, as well as student engagement with
content and assessment performance. These analytics will be used for
continuous course improvement.

Z-Degree is selected as a Bellwether Finalist in the
programs category.

2014
JANUARY
The second semester of the Z-Degree begins on the front page
of The Virginian-Pilot with an article headlined: “College seeks
relief for students as textbook costs stack up.”
600 students enroll in 25 sections of Z-courses for Spring 2014.
FEBRUARY
Measures of effectiveness and student success are highlighted
when the Z-Degree is presented at the National Alliance of
Community and Technical Colleges (NACTC) annual conference.
MARCH
TCC participates in a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill,
organized by SPARC in support of Open Education Week.
Early Z-course data from Spring 2014 show that 63.2% of the
Z-courses retained 100% of their students through the drop/
tuition refund date.

Z-DEGREE // TIDEWATER COMMUNITY COLLEGE

84.9% of available seats in Z-courses are filled, compared to 65.9% for
textbook-based counterparts.
The Z-Degree and OER are presented on the college-wide Professional
Development Day to a capacity audience, increasing awareness and
adoption.

The Z-Degree makes a national television debut when CBN-TV
highlights the Z-Degree in a news segment titled “Cost-Cutting College:
Education’s Future.”

Z-Degree is presented to the Board of Directors for the State
Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).
Z-Degree is presented to the State Board of Community Colleges
Executive Board.

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2014
APRIL
TCC faculty at the VCCS New Horizons Conference present
multiple sessions focusing on the Z-Degree and OER.

Z-Degree included in CNN news article on relieving students of the
burden of textbook costs.

Z-Degree wins VCCS Excellence in Education Award,
presented at New Horizons Conference in Roanoke, Va.
MAY
Z-Degree is presented at TCC Annual Learning Institute.
“Pathways: Adopting OER in the Classroom,” created
thanks to a competitive Chancellor’s Innovation Grant,
is launched and filled to capacity with faculty and staff
eager to participate in TCC’s OER initiatives.
JUNE
Presentations on OER policy, economic feasibility
and the role of librarians are the highlights of TCC’s
Z-Degree participation in the Open Educational
Leadership Summit held in Portland, Ore.
JULY
TCC revises and implements Policy 2108: The Use of
Open Educational Resources.
AUGUST
Third semester of the Z-Degree begins with 27 sections
of Z-courses, enrolling more than 600 students
producing an estimated student cost savings to date
of $175,000.

Spring 2014 semester concludes with 93% of students reporting that
they believed the Z-courses they completed were “as good or better”
than the same course that used a traditional textbook.

Z-Degree presented at national Teachers of Accounting at Community
and Two-Year Colleges conference (TACTYC).

Two sections of “Pathways: Adopting OER in the Classroom” are offered
with more than 24 faculty and librarians participating.
TCC student Sandra Kerley is featured in an article in TIME magazine, in which
she speaks about the impact of the Z-Degree on her family’s finances.

TCC representatives are invited to the White House to
collaborate with the Office of Science and Technology
Programs (OSTP) on the inclusion of OER in the next
iteration of the Executive Office’s Open Government Plan.
SEPTEMBER
“With Good Reason,” a nationally broadcast radio
program produced by the Virginia Foundation for the
Humanities, features the Z-Degree in a segment titled,
“Summer Melt and the Z-Degree.”

Z-Degree is presented at EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in a session titled, “The
Z-Degree: Taming the BYOD beast while enhancing the student experience.”

OCTOBER
TCC hosts the OpenVA conference, bringing faculty,
administrators and policy makers from both community
colleges and senior colleges and universities together
to move OER efforts in Virginia forward.

OER and the Z-Degree are featured at TCC’s Professional Development Day
held at the Joint-Use Library on the Virginia Beach Campus

Z-DEGREE // TIDEWATER COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Members of the TCC Z-Degree team participate in a collaborative national
webinar to highlight the path to a zero-cost textbook degree.

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2014
NOVEMBER
Z-Degree is presented in several sessions at the International
Open Education Conference held in Arlington, Va.

The Z-Degree is featured in Zac Bissonette’s article, “Reducing college
costs could mean end of textbooks,” on CNBC.com.

At American University’s Washington College of Law in
Washington, D.C., Z-Degree program successes are shared
with attendees at OpenCon, hosted by SPARC and the Right to
Research Coalition.
DECEMBER
Presentation submissions related to the Z-Degree and OER are
made for the National Institute for Staff and Organizational
Development (NISOD), The League for Innovation in the
Community College, the American Association of Community
Colleges (AACC), the Virginia Community College System (VCCS)
Annual New Horizons and discipline-specific VCCS conferences.

2015
JANUARY
Host Kara Miller features the Z-Degree on her program
“Innovation Hub” to be broadcast on WGBH, Boston and Public
Radio International.

Z-DEGREE // TIDEWATER COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Students begin the fourth semester of the Z-Degree pilot with
39 sections of Z-courses, making total Z-Degree enrollment in the
pilot phase more than 2,500 students (more than $250,000 in
student savings).

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Z-DEGREE
MODEL

THE Z-DEGREE MODEL
The six components of TCC’s Z-Degree
From the project’s inception, TCC has made a conscious effort to create a replicable model for building
a Z-Degree. This model provides TCC the ability to repeat the success of the pilot, expand offerings
within the Z-Degree itself, and ultimately share the model for a Z-Degree with like-minded colleges
and universities.
Replication of this initial effort requires several key components:

Organizational commitment to the creation and sustainability of a Z-Degree is essential to establish
an environment that embraces openness, creativity, and innovation. Although faculty-led, the move to
OER must be driven and supported by administrators who can affect policy and secure the resources
necessary to support a Z-Degree. (See Appendix for TCC’s policy on Open Educational Resources.)

A core group of faculty who are eager to rise to the challenge of stripping a course down to articulated
learning outcomes and rebuilding it using judiciously selected OER need to be identified in each
discipline. These faculty champions serve as a nucleus, fostering awareness and acceptance of OER
among their colleagues.

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Although faculty are subject matter experts, their understanding of the components of OER in areas
of licensing, attribution, and content curation is imperfect. Professional development opportunities
for faculty should be identified, created, and encouraged. Through focused training and exposure
to the broader OER community, faculty experts will be cultivated within the institution to provide
project leadership.

Research has confirmed that the “expertise of librarians in most of the general LIS technologies and
skills is needed at OER initiatives” (Bueno-de-la-Fuente, Robertson, & Boon, 2012). Librarians with
expertise in OER play a vital role in ongoing success of a Z-Degree by providing hands-on support
for faculty.

An institution-wide support network of stakeholders is essential to provide support to the student
embarking upon a Z-Degree. This network also serves as a communication channel among functional
areas such as student services, academics, and institutional effectiveness to ensure that the integrity
of the Z-Degree and component courses is maintained.

Continuous course improvement is inherent in the Z-Degree model. When faculty make changes
to their courses, they are often based on intuitions, hunches, or student complaints. Consequently,
no empirical quality improvement feedback loop is ever established, and there is no apparent
improvement in the quality of higher education over time (Arum & Roksa, 2010). Based upon
a teach-analyze-improve cycle based on student assessment results aligned to course learning
objectives, courses are revised and OER content is augmented or replaced.

These core components create the framework for the creation of a Z-Degree. Best practices reside within
each element to enable the components of the project to merge, creating a set of like-minded constituents
working towards a common goal. The result is a pathway to the creation of individual Z-courses or an
entire Z-Degree.

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FACULTY PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
“Pathways to OER” is a 6-module online professional development course designed to provide faculty with
the requisite knowledge to effectively adopt and adapt open-licensed educational resources (OER) for use
in the classroom. TCC received a Chancellor’s Innovation Fund grant to develop the course because there
was no vehicle by which faculty could learn about adoption, licensing and deployment of OER content.
While initially developed by TCC, the Pathway course will facilitate the adoption of OER at every level
throughout the VCCS. The course is licensed under a CC-BY License, allowing the course to reflect the
changing dynamics within the broader OER community. Further course development includes having the
course certified by Quality Matters.
The course is inherently scalable and sustainable since it has been migrated to an open-course framework.
The potential offered audience for this course is now anyone wanting to gain knowledge about the
foundations of OER creation, adoption and adaptation.
The course is scaffolded in a way that takes the learner from investigating the reasons why “Open” matters
to copyright law and then proceeds through the process of adopting, remixing and creating openly licensed
content aligned to their course learning outcomes. At the conclusion of the course, participants have at
least one piece of openly licensed content that is aligned to a learning outcome and ready to be deployed
in the classroom.

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PATHWAYS: ADOPTING OER IN THE CLASSROOM (EDUC7010)
MODULES AND LEARNING OUTCOMES:
Module 1: “Why Open?”
• Explain reasons why openness in education matters
• Define Open Educational Resources (OER)
• Describe the 5R’s of OER
Module 2: Introduction to Open Licensing
• Contrast an authors’ rights under Full Copyright, Creative Commons and Public Domain licensing
• Distinguish among the parts of a CC license and what they mean
• Assess the compatibility of CC licenses
Module 3: Investigating OER on the Web
• Locate content that is properly licensed which could be used to augment existing course content
• Identify the license of content found through web searches
• Properly attribute OER content that is being adopted
Module 4: Open Textbooks/Open Courses
• Investigate Open Textbook resources available for adoption
• Investigate Open Courses published in the Creative Commons that can be adapted or adopted
• Assess the OER content available in a subject area or discipline
Module 5: Remix OER
• Analyze and select OER content that aligns to a unit level learning outcome
• Modify OER content to improve alignment with a unit level learning outcome
• Place proper licensing and attribution on adopted and adapted (remixed) content
Module 6: Create and Share
• Create original course content, aligned to a unit level learning objective
• Evaluate and select the appropriate CC license for the course content
• Identify ways to Publish the content to the Creative Commons

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CONTINUOUS COURSE IMPROVEMENT
There has been little progress made in the field of education on creating a sustainable and practical
process for continuous course improvement. Changes to courses and course content have traditionally
been made at the end of each semester based on anecdotal evidence, student surveys and “hunches”
but not on analytics. The Z-Degree changed that approach by taking advantage of powerful analytics within
the LMS that became available to evaluate the effectiveness of course content in helping students meet
specific learning outcomes. It was decided early on that the Z-courses would go through a continuous
course improvement process based on evidence beyond anecdotal and student evaluation feedback.
(See Appendix for a sample of Continuous Improvement Report.)
To this end two tools were employed: (1) an alignments function within the LMS and (2) an analytics
report created from data pulled directly from the course. These two evaluation tools would then be used
to provide empirical data to the faculty upon which course improvements could be made. The alignment
tool within the LMS allows the Learning Outcome to be linked to both content areas and assessments.
When reports are generated from within the LMS, immediate feedback on individual items is generated.
Assessments are then flagged for review based on student mastery of the aligned outcome. This tool has
provided important and timely feedback throughout the semester, allowing faculty to make changes and
corrections in the course as students work through the course material.
For long-term continuous course improvement, TCC engaged Lumen Learning to collect data from the
Z-courses and integrate recommendations for possible improvements to each course in a “Continuous
Improvement Report.” An example of one such report for BUS100 (Introduction to Business) from the
Spring 2013 is included in Appendix B. These reports allow faculty to focus on those areas of the course
that can most benefit from re-design based on student achievement and performance. This is an iterative
process and courses are evaluated at the conclusion of each semester. This continuous improvement
is made possible through the use of OER because faculty are no longer bound to textbook and course
material that remain static until the end of the current adoption or edition. Being able to freely move
about the Commons and locate relevant, high quality content to either augment or replace existing content
facilitates the continuous improvement process. These courses are now constantly being enhanced and
enriched by a world of openly licensed content beyond even the faculty team’s wildest imagination.
Open content creates an open-minded approach to course design and ultimately opens doors to
information and resources for the students that enhance and enrich their experience.

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SUMMARY
When evaluating the pilot semesters of the Z-Degree, the data suggest that the original measure of
effectiveness was achieved when the idea of a degree with $0 in textbook costs was translated into an
institutionally-driven, faculty-led project. The true measures of accomplishment have shifted to student
success and increased instructor effectiveness.
In total, the data reflects that 95% of students would enroll in a Z-course again, and 98% believe the
Z-course is as good or better than a course that uses a traditional published text. When almost 99% of
students believe that course learning objectives have been met and 95% would be likely to recommend a
Z-course to another student we are comfortable in concluding that even in its first semester, in pilot mode,
the Z-Degree is an effective alternative to its counterparts that require the purchase of traditional
publisher textbooks.

Z-DEGREE // TIDEWATER COMMUNITY COLLEGE

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MEASURES OF
EFFECTIVENESS

MEASURES OF EFFECTIVENESS

When the Z-Degree was first conceived, the goal was to eliminate the following student experience:

My first day of school is tomorrow and I have not received my English books yet! I did not have
the $160.00 on Thursday last week, the day of the registration, to buy my books brand new,
so I ordered used ones on-line. Well, classes start tomorrow and the books have not shipped
yet. Hopefully they ship tomorrow – Monday. I just don’t want to feel like a fool in class with
no books. What can I tell the teacher?

1

This goal was met on the first day of the Fall 2013 semester when the pilot was launched. However, during
the months leading up to the launch it became increasingly evident that breaking a course down to the
skeleton of learning outcomes presented a unique opportunity to collect empirical data about student
retention, achievement of learning outcomes and overall course quality. Measuring the effectiveness of the
Z-Degree by dollars and cents alone was deemed insufficient to declare the pilot a success. The needle was
moved and effectiveness was re-defined to include student retention, achievement of learning outcomes
and identification of opportunities for continuous course improvement. Instead of using anecdotal evidence
and traditional end-of-course evaluations to measure effectiveness, TCC designed a process for collecting
data in a statistically valid and practically significant method.
The hypothesis on which all research was founded was straightforward: Could the curriculum be built and
delivered in a pilot mode and de minimis produce the same results as non-OER based courses currently
being offered? Evidence leads the team to conclude that in the first pilot semester, the Z-courses achieved
their stated learning outcomes in a manner consistent with other sections of the course while providing
students relief from the extraordinary burden of textbook costs.
Information is provided in four distinct areas:
1. Student Retention
2. Student Success
3. Student Experience and Course Evaluation
4. Continuous Course Improvement

1. Read more: http://www.city-data.com/forum/education/1060008-classes-start-tomorrow-i-have-no.html#ixzz2qf402F1j

Z-DEGREE // TIDEWATER COMMUNITY COLLEGE

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STUDENT RETENTION

2

In analyzing student retention two milestones were used: (1) the point in the semester where a student can
drop a course for a tuition refund and (2) the withdrawal date at which point a student may withdraw from
a course without academic penalty and receive a grade of “W.”3

Reten:on  at  Drop  Date    
97.6%  
97.4%  
97.2%  
97.0%  
96.8%  
96.6%  
96.4%  
96.2%  
96.0%  
95.8%  
95.6%  

Fall  2013  

All  Sec:ons  

Spring  2014  

Z-­‐courses  

Student  Withdrawal  
7.0%  
6.0%  
5.0%  
4.0%  
3.0%  
2.0%  
1.0%  
0.0%  

All  Sec1ons  

Z-­‐courses  

2. Two courses (ITP132 and ACC211) were omitted from this data. There was no corresponding non Z-course section of ITP132
available for comparison. ACC211 is the subject of a VCCS re-alignment and the SLO’s are in pilot making the data from this
course fall outside the fences delineating outliers based on presumed normal distribution.
3. It must be noted that because of changes in Federal Financial Aid guidelines some students may forfeit future financial aid
assistance if they receive a “W” therefore this data may be skewed towards higher retention rates in non Z-courses due to
sample size variance.

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STUDENT SUCCESS
The measurement of student success used was that students complete the course with a grade of “C” or
better since this is the minimum grade required for transfer to four-year colleges and universities.

Student  Success  

72.0%  
71.5%  
71.0%  
70.5%  
70.0%  
69.5%  
69.0%  
68.5%  
68.0%  
67.5%  
67.0%  
66.5%  
66.0%  
65.5%  
65.0%  
64.5%  

Fall  2013  

Spring  2014  
All  Sec>ons  

Fall  2014  

Z-­‐courses  

STUDENT EXPERIENCE AND COURSE EVALUATION
The student perspective on their experience in a Z-course is critical to the continued success and
expansion of the pilot. If students do not perceive that these courses are of high quality as compared to
traditional textbook-based courses, then the future of the program is limited. A voluntary response survey
was administered by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness in the final week of the Fall 2013 semester.
This survey was transmitted to the students via their student email account with a cover email from the
Vice President for Academic Affairs. This process was designed to differentiate this survey instrument from
regular end of course evaluations and increase awareness that student opinion was being solicited as a
participant in the Z-Degree pilot. We believe that the survey was unbiased in its questions and is a valid
survey of a finite population (N = 316) with a response rate of 43.98% (n = 139).

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Respondent Demographics

Respondent Self-reported
Cumulative GPA

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17

Students were asked to consider the Z-course they had just completed compared to courses that used
traditional publisher textbooks and materials. The following are highlights of the survey responses and
student comments.

QUESTION: IMAGINE A FUTURE COURSE THAT YOU ARE REQUIRED TO TAKE. IF TWO DIFFERENT
SECTIONS OF THE COURSE ARE OFFERED BY THE SAME INSTRUCTOR IN EQUALLY DESIRABLE TIME
SLOTS AND LOCATIONS, BUT ONE SECTION USES A TRADITIONAL TEXTBOOK YOU ARE REQUIRED
TO PURCHASE AND THE OTHER USES OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES (OER), IN WHICH SECTION
WOULD YOU PREFER TO ENROLL?

ANSWER

RESPONSE

%

I would enroll in the section that uses a

7

5%

115

85%

13

10%

135

100%

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHED BOOK
I would enroll in the section that uses
OER (Z-course)
I would have no preference
TOTAL

QUESTION: HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE OVERALL QUALITY OF THE OER CONTENT USED IN
THIS COURSE?

ANSWER
WORSE than the quality of the text-

RESPONSE

%

5

4%

44

32%

86

64%

135

100%

books used in my other classes
ABOUT THE SAME as the quality of the
textbooks used in my other classes
BETTER than the quality of the textbooks used in my other classes
TOTAL

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QUESTION: HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE OVERALL QUALITY OF THE COURSE?

ANSWER

RESPONSE

%

3

2%

54

40%

78

58%

135

100%

WORSE than the quality of my other
classes
ABOUT THE SAME as the quality of my
other classes
BETTER than the quality than the
quality of my other classes
TOTAL

STUDENT COMMENTS IN SUPPORT OF FINDINGS:

The quality of the class is the same as a traditional class with the exception of being able to
use different resources to get information. Watching YouTube videos on a subject is easier then
reading 40+ pages on a subject.
The quality of the course is enhanced by the open source materials. When you leave a
traditional class with the textbook, you have the knowledge you retain from the course. With
the use of open source materials, you are also shown videos and other resources that become
searchable topics on the internet to refresh information for a class taken later.
I really love the fact that you aren’t put on this set schedule, the ‘by the book’ schedule of
learning. Instead the teaching feels broader. My professor can introduce us to new resources
and a wide selection of information, not just what’s contained in a book. I would love to take
more classes like this.

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QUESTION: HOW EFFECTIVE WAS THIS COURSE IN MEETING THE LEARNING OBJECTIVES AS
OUTLINED IN THE COURSE SYLLABUS?

ANSWER

RESPONSE

%

Not Effective at all

1

1%

Somewhat effective

9

14%

Very effective

115

85%

TOTAL

135

100%

STUDENT COMMENTS IN SUPPORT OF FINDINGS:

The Learning Objectives were easy to follow and the open source materials directly
related to the topics.
It met all objectives.
Covered every single Module effectively.
Each week the content on the syllabus was addressed and each week there was a lot of
information regarding the topic.
It was a very effective learning environment.
I learned more in this class without a textbook than I did in my Economics class
with a textbook.

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QUESTION: COMPARED TO A COURSE YOU HAVE TAKEN THAT REQUIRED THE PURCHASE OF A
TRADITIONAL PUBLISHED TEXTBOOK, HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE OVERALL QUALITY OF
THIS COURSE?

ANSWER

RESPONSE

%

Poor

1

1%

Fair

3

2%

Average

12

9%

Good

38

28%

Excellent

81

60%

135

100%

TOTAL

STUDENT COMMENTS IN SUPPORT OF FINDINGS:

The use of an open source material did not change the quality of the instruction. With the course
I took being one of the first courses at the college, the innovation and enhancements of open
source development are greatly applicable to many other classes. The potential is limitless.
The classes with traditional published textbooks I study and memorize to pass tests. In this
class I have a greater appreciation for the things I learned because I actually experienced the
material and lesson as opposed to simply passing a test. This knowledge will last a lifetime.

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QUESTION: HOW LIKELY ARE YOU TO RECOMMEND A Z-COURSE TO ANOTHER STUDENT?

ANSWER

RESPONSE

%

Very Unlikely

3

2%

Somewhat Unlikely

2

1%

22

17%

Very Likely

108

80%

TOTAL

135

100%

Somewhat Likely

STUDENT COMMENTS IN SUPPORT OF FINDINGS:

My instructor for the Z-course class I took had the textbook that would have been required for
the class. She showed some of the sections in the book that pertained to the current topic
discussed, only to reveal that she could explain 5 or so pages in just a few sentences. For
students like me that don’t always have enough money in the bank to pay for such expensive
texts, which may not even be used for half of a semester, Z-courses are a godsend.
Having everything and more available to me in an instant was very convenient. I also found it
wonderful to only need to bring my tablet with me to class, in this day and age that is how it
should be. The flow of the open resource was amazing. This saved a lot of money and time.

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QUESTION: PLEASE USE THE SPACE PROVIDED BELOW TO SHARE YOUR COMMENTS OR
SUGGESTIONS REGARDING YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE Z-COURSE AND THE OPENTCC4 PILOT
PROGRAM.

During my academic experience thus far, textbooks are a waste of money for most classes.
There is just too much material that is not needed, I think the Z-course approach is much
better because we were being administered only the relevant materials for that course. I
wasn’t wasting time trying to decipher which material I needed to study for each exam. It also
provided different learning styles. I was able to read, watch videos, and listen to the professor
on blackboard to learn my course materials. I think that textbooks should be done away with.
A professor that teaches solely out of the textbook is a bad professor in my opinion, because
anyone can stay home and read out of the textbook.
I would love for this program to take off and have more courses offered under the OpenTCC
Program. Being a full time employee and a full time student, not having to lug books around
to do assignments has been awesome. Being able to open up Blackboard and have all my
readings listed was wonderful. I didn’t have to flip through a 500 page textbook to find an
answer, just open up the link in a new tab and the section was already there. I hope that this
program is able to be extended so more classes are offered a semester. I look forward to doing
my second semester through OpenTCC in January!
The Z-course is a great class and even better because I do not have to come out of pocket to
purchase a textbook. This saves me money and also I get the same quality of education as I
would in a traditional class setting.
I like the fact that only the materials that you need were presented to you instead of an entire
chapter which allows you to concentrate on what is important.

4. OpenTCC was the working title for the Z-Degree.

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PUBLIC
AWARENESS
AND MEDIA

TCC plans to offer degree, textbooks not required
Published March 15, 2013
BY ELISABETH HULETTE

Soon Tidewater Community College students will be able to earn a whole degree without buying
any textbooks.
The initiative is the first of its kind for an accredited American institution, college officials and industry
leaders announced Thursday. Schools and colleges are increasingly using free materials online, they
said, but this degree - an associate degree in business administration - will be the first to rely on them
completely.
The point is to save students money, said Daniel DeMarte, vice president for academic affairs and chief
academic officer at the college. Textbook prices are soaring, he said, and the college has tried to curb
student expenditures by using electronic texts and secondhand books. Now, with the proliferation of online
education resources - OERs to educators - it may be possible to eliminate the cost altogether.
“If it’s possible, why aren’t we looking at it?” DeMarte asked. “If the quality is as good or better, then why
not? We’re seeking to answer that question.”
The program will be a pilot. If it goes well next year, and quality is not sacrificed, more courses may be
offered without textbooks, DeMarte said.
It won’t be mandatory. Business administration is one of TCC’s most popular degree programs, so multiple
sections are offered for each of the 21 required courses. Students can decide whether to take one with
traditional books, or one that uses free materials.
If they pick the latter, they could cut their education expenses by a third. According to TCC, the Bureau
of Labor Statistics has reported the cost of textbooks increased 812 percent since 1978, and textbooks
now average $175 each. By taking textbook-free courses, TCC estimates students could save $2,000 to
$2,500 - about a third of the cost of their degree.
Open-source materials have been around for a decade, pretty much since computers and Web access
became widely affordable.
Many are developed by organizations funded by grants. For example, OpenStax College is funded in part by
the Hewlett and Gates foundations. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has put courses online for
free, and NASA has free online materials, too, DeMarte said.

Z-DEGREE // TIDEWATER COMMUNITY COLLEGE

24

Many are peer-reviewed, like textbooks. The best ones develop reputations among teachers and professors
who know good material when they see it, said David Wiley, co-founder of Lumen Learning, an organization
based in Portland, Ore., that’s helping TCC.
Wiley met DeMarte about eight months ago at a panel discussion, and the two discussed making TCC the
first college to offer a whole degree using just OERs.
Higher education can be slow to change, Wiley said, and many colleges and professors have been hesitant
to use open-source material. It’s hard to find leaders in that world, he said, but once TCC shows it can be
done, other schools likely will make the leap.
“To see somebody step up and grasp it and say, ‘It’s possible, and because all these good things are
possible, we think it needs to be done, and we’re going to do it’ - it’s good on so many levels,” Wiley said.
Cable Green, director of global learning with Creative Commons, a nonprofit that offers free licensing
for open-source resources, said a key to the open-materials movement is not only making them free, but
allowing educators to manipulate them.
The licenses usually allow professors to pull apart online texts, lecture notes, videos and other materials,
and curate them into a set that works best for their class. Then those professors can make their versions
available to others.
Andi Sporkin, vice president of communications for the Association of American Publishers, said the
industry is changing, and publishers understand that open-source materials are part of it. Some now offer
basic textbooks online for free, but charge students for supplemental materials like study guides and flash
cards. There are also some disturbing trends, she said, like free materials that come with advertisements
and track students’ personal information.
Traditional textbooks, she said, are a smaller part of the market.
“It’s not black and white,” Sporkin said. “Publishers are not opposed to open source.... But it does come
down to quality content that’s well-researched, that’s well-written, that serves the student.”
About 25 students will be chosen for TCC’s pilot program next year. All will go through an orientation to
learn about OERs, according to a news release from TCC.
DeMarte said Lumen Learning and the 13 faculty members involved with this project will be critical to
figuring out whether to expand it. They will determine whether the content is on par or better than what
the professors are using now.
“It’s a house of cards if those two pieces are not there,” he said. “We will not compromise quality, period.”

Source: http://hamptonroads.com/2013/03/tcc-plans-offer-degree-textbooks-not-required

Z-DEGREE // TIDEWATER COMMUNITY COLLEGE

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Community college to offer textbook-free
degree
Published March 18, 2013
BY KARIN KAPSIDELIS

In what is seen as the next major innovation
in cutting college costs, Virginia’s Tidewater
Community College will offer a textbook-free
degree program in the fall that could reduce
the price of earning an associate degree by
about a third.
TCC says its associate of science degree in
business administration will be the first in the
nation by an accredited institution to entirely
use open-source educational materials.
“I think we have a responsibility as a college to do what we can to help control the costs of textbooks,
because we know there are students who can’t afford them,” said Daniel T. DeMarte, TCC vice president
for academic affairs and chief academic officer. “We know there are students who are not successful
because they can’t afford them.”
The two-year pilot program is being developed through a partnership with Lumen Learning, an Oregon
company that helps schools integrate open educational resources, known as OERs, into curricula.
David Wiley, one of Lumen’s founders, spoke last August at the Virginia Community College System retreat.
During a panel discussion, Wiley said it would be possible to offer an entire OER degree program but
that “no one had done it yet,” DeMarte recalled. Afterward, “I asked him if he’d be willing to work with
Tidewater to make that happen.”
The college estimates a student who completes the degree will have saved about $2,000, although actual
savings will be calculated when the pilot program is evaluated.
The business program ranks second in demand among the college’s offerings, with more than 350 students
earning the degree annually.
For the 2013-14 academic year, the college will offer one OER section for each of 21 courses.

Z-DEGREE // TIDEWATER COMMUNITY COLLEGE

26

Students taking the OER courses will receive additional advising to make sure they understand the
concept, said Kimberly Bovee, associate vice president for strategic learning initiatives.
“For example, when a student hears it’s a textbook-free course, that doesn’t mean they don’t have to read,”
she said. “That doesn’t mean they don’t have to engage in the course material and maybe read even more
that they’re used to.”
Lumen views open educational resources—those that are in the public domain or have been released from
copyright—as an untapped resource for repurposing to reduce college costs.
But interest is growing amid studies that show textbook costs have increased by more than 800 percent
since 1978.
Virginia State University, which embraced the concept several years ago, offers all of its core curriculum
courses in the business school on open digital textbooks.
The state’s community college system is seeking to expand OER courses, but as yet no other college is
offering a textbook-free degree. However, grants are being offered to instructors to develop OER classes,
especially for high-enrollment courses that can be shared across the system.
VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois said these open resources are increasingly being used to take the place of
“ridiculously expensive textbooks that students are only going to use for 15 weeks and never use again.”
He said some textbooks can cost more than the tuition for a community college course.
“I think it’s one of the biggest rip-offs in this business,” DuBois said. “I say that not as a chancellor; I say
it as a father who just had to give his daughter 600 bucks to buy this semester’s textbooks at a
public university.”
With open digital materials, students can save $150 or so per course, “and if they want to print it and
keep it, it might cost them 15 or 20 bucks,” he said.
kkapsidelis@timesdispatch.com
(804) 649-6119

Source: http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/community-college-to-offer-textbook-freedegree/article_d45bcffc-bea5-5049-acd3-b025170041f2.html

Z-DEGREE // TIDEWATER COMMUNITY COLLEGE

27

Virginia Community College to Pilot
Free Textbook Program
Published March 18, 2013
BY CATHERINE GROUX

As the cost of textbooks continues to rise, Virginia’s Tidewater
Community College recently announced the launch of a pilot
program in which some students can earn an associate’s degree in
business administration without purchasing books, The Associated
Press reports. While some colleges have strived to offer students free
online textbooks when possible, college officials said this is the first
time an accredited, American institution has tried to create a degree
program that exclusively relies on free, or open-source texts.
A Virginia community college will create a pilot
that relies solely on free textbooks.

Tidewater plans to complete the pilot in one year and then analyze
whether it affected the quality of its courses. However, students

who attend the community college next year will not be required to participate in the program. The school
currently offers multiple sections for each of its 21 required business administration courses, so students
can select whether they want to enroll in one that uses traditional books or one that only relies on
free texts.
Daniel DeMarte, vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Tidewater, told The
Virginian-Pilot that the main reason for launching the pilot is to reduce the cost of earning an associate’s
degree. Today, students spend about $655 on required course materials each year, according to a July
2012 study conducted by OnCampus Research.

Source: http://www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com/articles/virginia-community-college-to-pilot-freetextbook_13019.aspx#.VNN_Ap3xrck

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28

Textbook-free project could cut degree costs by a third
Published March 25, 2013
BY TIMES STAFF

A Virginia community college may be the first college in the country to offer a degree in which students
won’t have to use textbooks.
Tidewater Community College (TCC) will launch its “textbook-free” degree this fall aimed in part to ease
the sting of soaring textbook costs for students, which is increasingly becoming a financial challenge.
Textbooks have increased more than 800 percent since 1978, with the average book today priced at $175.
Business administration students participating in the pilot program will use high-quality open textbooks
and other open educational resources (OER), which are freely accessible, openly licensed materials that
include text, videos, presentations and other formats. All students will need is access to a browser.
Eliminating textbooks could result in students saving $2,000-$2,500 over the course of the degree,
college officials estimate.
TCC is partnering in the effort with Lumen Learning, a Portland, Ore.-based company that helps
educational institutions integrate OER into their curricula.
For TCC President Edna Baehre-Kolovani, the initiative is about making higher education more accessible
and affordable by reducing the costs of required books.
“We have worked with our bookstore partner, Barnes and Noble, to offer students options,” she said.
“Textbooks can be purchased new or used and many are available as rentals or e-text. This initiative offers
yet another option: to skip traditional textbooks entirely. ”
STARTING THIS FALL
TCC’s textbook-free pilot project will begin with the 2013-14 academic year, according to Daniel DeMarte,
the college’s vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer. Aside from increased access
and affordability, TCC hopes the project will lead to more faculty engaging in learning about and refining
the use of OER and greater faculty and student understanding of learning outcomes.
TCC will offer one section each of 21 courses for which students will not be required to buy textbooks.
Thirteen faculty members will teach the sections.
“The business administration degree produces more than 350 graduates annually, the second highest
among the college’s offerings, and the department has an innovative faculty member who is familiar with
OER and willing to lead the initiative,” DeMarte said.

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29

The courses will be delivered both on campus and online. TCC contracted with Lumen to help identify the
best OER, support the faculty building the courses and ensure copyright compliance.
AN IDEA FROM A RETREAT
DeMarte said he was inspired to pursue the initiative after hearing Lumen Learning founder David Wiley
speak about OER at the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) Chancellor’s annual retreat last August.
He approached Wiley after the panel and soon the two organizations began forming a plan.
TCC started its initial training with faculty in January, with Lumen leading the training, said Kimberly
Bovee, associate vice president for strategic learning initiatives at TCC. The company is currently working
with the college to develop the OER courses. Lumen is also looking into copyrights on selected material.
TCC officials stressed that the quality of the OER courses will be as good or better than the textbook
courses.
“We will be deliberate and strategic with this effort remaining focused on student success and high-quality
education,” DeMarte said, noting that OER is peer-reviewed to ensure academic rigor.
FACULTY SUPPORT
Faculty members have expressed a “general openness” to the idea of OER, said DeMarte, who noted that
faculty support is crucial.
“If you don’t have a faculty who is going to champion it, it’s just not going to work,” he said.
Another key component of the project is support services for students taking OER classes, Bovee said.
That includes technical support as well as advising students and making sure they understand what the
courses entail.
One of the challenges will be to manage expectations of students, DeMarte said.
“It doesn’t mean that reading isn’t required,” he said.
The state system is encouraging other two-year colleges to test OER. It has formed a group to develop
recommendations for reducing textbook costs across the system. VCCS will soon announce colleges
that will each receive $3,000 to identify, review and customize high-quality OER to make them the only
required course material.
VCCS has also joined other public colleges and universities in the state to hold an inaugural Open & Digital
Learning Resources Conference to build awareness of innovative OER initiatives.

Source: http://www.ccdaily.com/Pages/Technology/Textbook-free-project-could-save-students-a-third-indegree-costs.aspx

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30

For some, ‘buy the book’ is gone
Posted May 24, 2013
BY JARED COUNCIL

Tidewater Community College is getting closer to becoming the first post-secondary school in the U.S. to
offer a textbook-free degree, adopting an alternative resource that experts say may shake up the textbook
publishing industry in yet another way and redistribute power among stakeholders - though much remains
to be seen.
TCC’s pilot program, to commence this fall, is based on free, Internet-based open educational resources,
also known as OERs.
The pilot is only for business administration majors and will allow students to forgo buying books for
those classes.
“A student pursuing an associate’s degree in business administration on an OER path could save as much
as $3,678,” said Daniel DeMarte, TCC’s vice president for academic affairs, adding that that’s a savings of
about 25 to 30 percent.
“That’s a big deal,” he said.
The initiative is called Open TCC, and the school has contracted with Portland, Ore.-based Lumen Learning
to help implement it.
Business administration students won’t be required to go the OER route, school officials said.
DeMarte got the idea from Lumen founder David Wiley at a chancellor’s planning retreat in August. School
officials then ran the concept by faculty members, who in turn embraced it.
“If we don’t have faculty who think it’s possible and were willing to take a look at it,” DeMarte said, “I
wasn’t willing to take it any further.”
Since then, faculty members have been vetting and selecting content, while school officials have worked
on logistical items such as process and assessment models.
Lumen has been training faculty and “scrubbing” selected content to ensure usage is legally compliant,
TCC officials said.
“The crowd that goes to community colleges, they’re probably the first generation in their family to go to
college,” said Wiley, who is in discussions with two other community colleges. “They need more help than
anybody, so that’s why we work primarily with community colleges.”

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31

Barnes & Noble College Booksellers Inc., TCC’s official bookstore partner, did not respond to requests
for comments.
DeMarte said officials there are aware of TCC’s move, and he suspects they’re trying to fully assess what it
will mean for their business model.
The school has 150 academic and training programs, most of which are textbook-based.
DeMarte wouldn’t disclose how much TCC will pay for the Lumen’s services.
But the funds used, he said, aren’t tied to any price increases for students.
Charles Schmidt, spokesman for the National Association of College Stores, said textbooks make up the
biggest chunk of college store revenue.
He said in 2011, the latest year of data, textbook sales accounted for $5.8 billion of the $10.2 billion
industry.
Open educational resources may change that, but Schmidt said stores shouldn’t be the only ones
concerned.
“Profit goes back [to the school] to help the students in the form of scholarships, help cover lab fees,”
Schmidt said. “Say the college goes to an OER on the intro- to-math book. All right, well, how many
thousands of dollars did that bring in last year? You’re not going to have that this year.”
Matt Reed, vice president of academic affairs at Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts, said his
school is exploring utilizing OERs.
He acknowledged that declining college store sales means less school revenue.
But if that happens, he said, so be it.
“If OER pays off the way I think it will in the sense of improving student success rates, then whatever
bookstore revenue we lose we’ll more than make up in increased tuition revenue from students not flunking
out,” Reed said. “I’d much rather go that route as opposed to ‘milk them for all they’re worth, then they
bail.’ I don’t like that model at all.”
The most recent NACS survey, from 2008, estimated that about 77.4 cents of every dollar from textbook
sales went to publishers. Peter Shea, an Albany University associate professor of informatics who studies
higher education, said technologies like Amazon.com, self-publishing and more have been disturbing the
conventional bookselling model over the past several years.
“OERs are one facet of the traumatic struggles that are occurring as a result of the disruption caused by
Internet-based technologies,” Shea said.

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32

Andi Sporkin, vice president of communications with the Association of American Publishers, said many
member publishers already have digital technologies and some have delved into OERs.
She mentioned Pearson, which has developed an OER-based site called Project Blue Sky, as one example,
though she wasn’t aware of how it makes money.
“The old print traditional textbook is pretty much gone. If people aren’t getting into digital they’re certainly
getting in to customized [products],” she said.
Sporkin expressed confidence in the value that publishers large and small bring to conventional and
new content development processes, and said it’s too early to tell how big an impact OERs will have
on publishers.
“I don’t know,” she said when asked what OERs are doing to the publishers’ business models. “It’s in a
transitional stage. What I do know is that probably about eight to 10 years ago a number of major nonprofit
foundations put a lot of money toward OER development. A lot of that has very quietly ended.”
Even as publishers such as Pearson are exploring OERs, Sporkin expressed concerns about them.
She questioned the fact-checking process in OERs, as well as the effectiveness of OER authors in
conveying concepts to students.
“What’s the quality of the OER material? And the biggest concern is: ‘Is it good or good enough?’” she said.
Wiley said the authors produce OER content for a variety of reasons.
“Some people produce content because they can’t find what they think is good content out there in the
world,” Wiley said. “Some people feel like it’s a social justice issue, that it’s completely immoral and
wrong that books cost so much that students can’t afford them.”
DeMarte said TCC is determined to use material that is on par with or better than what it currently uses.
“If the answer to that was no,” he said, “then we go nowhere with this.”
Even if quality was sufficient, some have said there are still other issues that OERs pose.
Schmidt, of the NACS, said one is access to computers and reading devices, which may vary widely among
students. Another issue has to deal with those devices malfunctioning.
“One of the biggest positives about an e-book, students say, is a lighter backpack,” he said, “And one
of their greatest fears is you’re getting ready to study for finals and you hit the power button and
nothing happens.”
Schmidt also said students may like to study with multiple books open at once, annotating and highlighting.

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He cited a fall 2012 NACS on-campus survey of about 10,500 students that found 77 percent of students
prefer print products.
DeMarte said OERs aren’t likely to replace all methods of content delivery.
“This may in the end be just another option along the continuum for the student who wants to buy a new
book and use it for life or rent a book or not have to buy a book at all.”
Kimberly Bovee, who is associate vice president for strategic learning initiatives at TCC, said one of the
greatest advantages of OERs is the fact that instructors can start with learning outcomes and find a variety
of sources to help achieve that as opposed to starting with a textbook and basing learning outcomes on
what’s available.
“When they keep their eye on that learning outcome, much of what is traditionally in a textbook isn’t
necessarily needed,” Bovee said. “It becomes much more focused, much clearer, much more direct.”
Bovee said the school is scheduling student orientation and Lumen will help analyze and tweak the
program as it grows.
She said Open TCC is likely here to stay, or else it wouldn’t have made it this far.
As OERs carve out a niche, industry experts said, companies are mulling over their responses.
The staying power of OERs is strong, Reed and others have said, and its potential is great.
“The movie industry didn’t start by making movies as we know them; it started by filming plays,” Reed said.
“Only later did they realize that movie cameras can do things other than just record plays.
“I think right now OER is in the filming-a-play stage, where they’re taking the textbook model and imitating
it - which is a perfectly valid first step.”

Source: http://insidebiz.com/news/some-buy-book-gone

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A textbook case of students not having enough money
Published December 30, 2013
BY BILL SIZEMORE

NORFOLK – At a recent meeting of Old Dominion University’s governing Board of Visitors, a startling
statistic caught board members’ attention.
According to a survey, nearly one in five ODU students are attending classes without the benefit of
textbooks. The reason: They can’t afford them.
It’s a sharply rising trend, Todd Johnson, assistant vice president for auxiliary services, told the board.
Along with escalating tuition and fees, accelerating textbook prices are a key reason why a college
education is becoming less and less affordable – not just at ODU, but across the nation.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that college textbook prices soared
82 percent over the past decade – almost as much as tuition and nearly three times the overall rate
of inflation.
Textbook prices for a semester’s worth of classes typically run between $800 and $1,500, Johnson said.
A single book in some areas of study can cost $200 or more.
ODU has tried to ease the burden by offering used books and rental plans at the campus bookstore, but
19 percent of students still can’t bear the cost, Johnson said. Pell Grants, the need-based federal grants
for low-income students, don’t cover books. So students double up with friends and seek out online
resources instead.
Board members were stunned.
“I deem that a real problem for the university,” Marc Jacobson said.
Elio DiStaola, a spokesman for Oak Brook, Ill.-based Follett Higher Education Group, which manages
ODU’s bookstore, said the 19 percent figure is consistent with nationwide findings from the company’s
internal research.
“I can’t even begin to think how the heck I would succeed in a classroom without my materials,” he said.
ODU administrators are exploring additional strategies for dealing with the problem, Johnson said.
One innovative approach is getting a test run a few miles across town at Tidewater Community College, and
the early reviews are positive.

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TCC has just finished the first semester of a pilot program that allows students to complete a two-year
associate degree in business administration without buying a single textbook.
The “Z Degree” program – “Z” for zero textbook cost – makes use of free, openly licensed online materials
known as open educational resources, or OER.
It’s estimated that students will save as much as $3,000 over two years – about 30 percent of the cost of
the degree.
It’s the first such program in the world, according to TCC and its partner, Lumen Learning, a Portland,
Ore.-based company that helps schools integrate OER into their curricula.
The TCC initiative was named a finalist this month for a national Bellwether Award, given annually by the
Community College Futures Assembly, a think tank that recognizes trend-setting institutions.
During the first semester of the pilot program, about 400 students took 16 “Z” courses ranging from
business to English, math and electives.
It seemed like a crazy idea at first. But “so far, it looks like it is possible,” said Daniel DeMarte, TCC’s vice
president for academic affairs and chief academic officer. “We’ve heard nothing negative from students
or from faculty. What we tend to hear from students is, they know we’re in pilot mode but they want this
option in other courses.”
In a sense, students have been ahead of the curve, DeMarte said, seeking out and tapping into online
materials on their own.
“They have gotten very resourceful in finding access to the material electronically, by hook or crook,” he
said. “Sometimes that means pirating the material.”
Pirating isn’t an issue with the TCC degree program, because the resources used are free, open-source
materials. Lumen Learning vetted the materials, assuring they are high-quality and suited to TCC’s needs,
and trained faculty members in how and where to find them.
Kim Thanos, co-founder and CEO of the company, said a community college is an ideal place to test the
concept because those institutions offer the sort of high-enrollment courses – college algebra, English
composition, introductory psychology and the like – for which a wide variety of open-source materials
are available.
Open materials for more specialized, upper-level courses are not as common. Nonetheless, Thanos said,
four-year universities are watching the “Z Degree” initiative with interest and will likely be the next frontier
for the concept.

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“We are seeing a real sea change in the use of open resources in a pervasive way,” she said.
Will the day eventually come when printed textbooks disappear?
“It’s heresy to say that in some circles,” DeMarte said. “I think it’s inevitable. How long before that occurs
is anybody’s guess. But I think we’re moving in that direction.
“We need to be doing what we can to drive those costs down.”

Source: http://hamptonroads.com/2013/12/textbook-case-students-not-having-enough-money

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Z Degree: TCC’s textbook answer
Published January 1, 2014

College expenses continue to climb, from tuition to activity fees to interest on student loans.
Many students enrolling in college classes fail to realize that education costs in one area have risen faster
than nearly any other: textbooks.
Since 2002, the cost of college textbooks has increased 82 percent. Figures for a longer term comparison
are even more startling: Since 1978, the cost of textbooks has skyrocketed by 812 percent. The increase
in textbook prices outstripped medical services by 237 percent, home prices by 487 percent and the
consumer price index by 562 percent.
One book for one course might cost as much as a car payment.
Two schools in Norfolk have taken note. At Old Dominion University, the board of governors recently
learned that nearly 20 percent of its students cannot afford textbooks for their classes. Old Dominion has
decided to find ways to deal with that problem.
Leaders at Tidewater Community College have addressed it head on: Students in classes for a two-year
degree in business administration use only materials that can be found for free on the Internet. Course
materials were vetted for quality, and professors received training in how to find them.
About 400 students participated in TCC’s pilot program called “Z Degree.” Z stands for zero textbook cost.
Others have already clamored for the school to make “book free” an option for other courses.
As The Pilot’s Bill Sizemore reported, the book-free classes could save a student as much as $3,000 over
two years, nearly a third of the cost of the degree.
TCC is a finalist for a national Bellwether Award for its endeavors, and other schools would be wise to
emulate its success. The real impact lies in making education more affordable for more people. Students
should not be hostage to professors who give no consideration to the cost of required course texts, nor
should book publishers be free to extort those trying to accomplish required reading.
The Internet has become an information equalizer. Education, the great equalizer, opens doors of
opportunity. Combining the two opens doors for many more people.

Source: http://hamptonroads.com/2013/12/z-degree-tccs-textbook-answer

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Cost-Cutting College: Education’s Future
Published February 4, 2014
For years, American families have accepted soaring tuition costs as a necessary evil to pay for a college
degree and promising career.
The recession, however, forced a change in
thinking and pricing. Universities and students
are seeing cost-cutting as a new way of life.
A LEANER, MEANER EDUCATION
Eryn Cotton loves working with children and
paying for college as she goes. Besides teaching
hip hop, she works three other jobs while going
to school full-time.
She’s part of a new generation hoping to
downsize or eliminate college loans altogether.
“I just told myself right up front, ‘Get it done and get it taken care of,’” she said.
This desire, or shall we say demand, has colleges racing to come up with plans for an affordable degree.
The latest average price increase for a four-year public school rose by 2.9 percent, the lowest increase in
30 years.
Christian colleges have also cut back. Dan Nelson, vice president for institutional data and research at
Bethel University, said faith-based schools have forced themselves to get leaner and meaner.
“Many of us have streamlined our programs, undergone program reprioritization processes,” Nelson said.
“There’s been quite a few salaries that have been frozen.
NO MORE BOOKS!
This era of cost-cutting has also led to new ways of educating. Imagine not having to lug heavy textbooks
around, let alone pay for them.
That’s the idea behind what’s known as a textbook-free degree.
“It’s not unusual for a student to come to me and literally say, ‘The books for this class are half again as
much as the tuition and I just can’t afford it,’” Linda Williams, a faculty member at Tidwater Community
College in Virginia, said.
Stories like that led TCC to make history. It’s the first accredited institution to offer a degree that costs
students nothing for course material.

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The expected savings for a two-year degree: $2,000. Teachers access what’s known as open educational
materials — free online.
“We’re no longer constrained by what exists between the front and back cover of a traditional textbook,”
Williams said.
Dr. Daniel DeMarte, vice president for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at Tidewater, said the
free materials provide high level scholarly content.
“There is no compromise in quality in course textbooks or materials using open educational resources,” he
said. “And we think it’s only going to get better.”
CREATIVE COST-CUTTING
Colleges and universities are also getting more creative with financial aid. At least two Christian colleges,
Houghton and Spring Arbor, will help graduates repay their loans if they earn less than $38,000 a year.
Cotton uses several strategies to keep her tuition low. First, she takes as many community college classes
as possible.
“You get more help I think at the community college and it’s a third of the price, so why not?” she said.
She’s also going online. Those classes are cheaper and allow her to squeeze in more work hours.
Regent University Executive Vice President Paul Bonicelli said online education will likely drive costcutting strategies for the foreseeable future.
“It’s not a panacea. It still costs to deliver a course online, but you can scale it in terms of an economy of
scale,” he explained. “You can make it possible to teach more students with fewer of those resources.”
He admitted it brings out skeptics and critics. But Bonicelli said students want it, primarily, because of cost.
“What people are coming to now is, ‘Where is the established brick and mortar campus, that has a
reputation, that has the accreditations, that is also delivering education online?’” he explained.
“Then those students are more attracted to it because they realize, the quality’s already there, the rankings
are there,” he said. “And I can get this education now even though I can’t leave my home, which is 2,000
miles away.”
A MOOC EDUCATION
Christian colleges have a special mission to help those students entering the ministry, who can’t afford
major loans.
For them and others who have high hopes and little money, there is growing interest in what’s known as
MOOCs — Massive Open Online Courses.

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“A MOOC allows you to take the course on your own time, at your own pace,” Bonicelli said.
Unlike traditional online classes, these aren’t tied to a semester schedule. MOOCs are also free for
students not pursuing a degree. Those who need college credit can get big discounts.
And the content can be exceptional, from engineers teaching their stuff at Massachusetts Institute of
Technology to a “What Is Jesus” class at Regent.
So the latest advice for students? Keep your options open and compare financial aid packages before
making final decisions.
Plan ahead by taking college classes in high school, and be organized.
“You have to be determined and if you want it you can get it,” Cotton said.

Source: http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/finance/2014/January/Cost-Cutting-College-Educations-Future/

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Baehre-Kolovani: OER - A textbook case for reducing college costs
Posted: Friday, March 7, 2014
In efforts to ensure the future affordability of higher education, textbooks
don’t receive the same notoriety as, say, tuition, fees, athletic facilities and
faculty salaries. And yet, according to the American Enterprise Institute,
the cost of college textbooks has risen 812 percent since 1978, more
than the rates of inflation, health care, new home prices and even college
tuition itself.
The academic toll is high. In January, the University of Maryland’s student
government association reported the results of a survey in which 65 percent
of students said they have decided not to buy a textbook because of price,
and nearly half say they decide their courses based on how much the books
cost. At Virginia State University, business school dean Mirta Martin found
that fewer than half of VSU business school students purchased textbooks,
and that many had to repeat their classes. After she arranged a pilot of lower-cost digital textbooks and
increased academic support, student success markedly improved.
But what if a student could avoid buying textbooks altogether?
Open educational resources, known as OER, have emerged as one answer, and many institutions offer
courses using OER, which are publicly licensed and academically vetted content. A congressional briefing
on March 10 in Washington, D.C., will focus on the potential of OER to alter the landscape of higher
education and truly put a dent in college costs.
However, despite the success of OER, too few colleges and universities have pushed the envelope in
examining the full potential of OER in teaching and learning.
In the fall of 2013, Tidewater Community College took an unprecedented step: Inspired by a presentation
at a retreat organized by Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges, we piloted an entire,
two-year business degree using OER. Not only business courses were included, but also all of the general
education courses a student needs to complete the academic program. TCC’s vice president for academic
affairs, Daniel DeMarte, will be speaking at the congressional briefing about our program, which we were
able to accomplish with the help of Lumen Learning. Lumen’s co-founder, David Wiley, is also expected
to speak.

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Until TCC’s “Z-Degree,” no college or university in the U.S. had gathered the diversity of OER resources
and developed a faculty team that could produce an entirely textbook-free degree. Over two years, a
student stands to save more than $3,600 on the cost of the degree just in textbooks, on top of already
affordable community college tuition.
Textbooks “cost” students and professors in other ways as well.
Because textbooks are frequently written for broad audiences in the hopes that they will be adopted by
large numbers of faculty and departments, they are filled with content that is superfluous to a specific
course’s learning outcomes. At best, the faculty member who is focused on content directly supporting the
course’s outcomes must skip significant portions of the textbook. At worst, a faculty member may rely on
the textbook’s content, not the learning outcomes, to organize and teach a course.
Either way, faculty who want to individualize or update learning content must supplement. The cost is in
teaching efficiency and effectiveness.
Our data from the first semester of the Z-Degree are encouraging. Textbook-free courses had higher student
retention and comparable grades, and students perceived better course quality and success at meeting
learning goals. The spring semester textbook-free course offerings were quickly filled.
Nicole Allen of SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition, directed a national
student campaign for textbook affordability, and she is also scheduled to appear at the congressional
briefing. TCC’s success in identifying and aggregating content across a spectrum of disciplines, she says,
“can significantly lower barriers to adoption at other colleges.”
That is the ultimate goal: We have promising proof of a concept as a national model for eliminating a major
barrier to higher education. We won’t stop working with our bookstore partner to provide options like used
books, rentals and e-texts, but neither will we stop our bold experiment to improve teaching and learning
through free resources.
You can’t have teaching or learning until a student can afford to be in the classroom.

Source: http://www.richmond.com/opinion/their-opinion/columnists-blogs/guest-columnists
/article_ad5ad5f4-cc47-5802-bc57-f77dbcd537e2.html

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Tidewater Community College Associate Degree
Using All OER Curriculum – Results After One Year
Posted March 10, 2014
Today, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition organized a Congressional briefing on
Open Educational Resources (OER) for Open Education Week. One speaker, Daniel DeMarte, described the
experience that Tidewater Community College has had in rolling out it’s “Z-Degree” – an associate degree
in business administration that uses a curriculum composed of entirely of OER.
Tidewater identified 21 courses and signed up faculty members to design the curriculum. They started with
the desired outcomes for each of the courses, and then built the curriculum with OER materials that would
meet those outcomes. Developing the curriculum took about 12 months. One year into the program, the
early results are highly positive.
The OER degree program had two goals – to eliminate cost as a barrier, and to improve teaching impacts.
The textbooks for an associate’s degree in business administration normally cost $3679, which is about a
third of the cost of the degree from Tidewater. Adoption of OER reduces these costs to zero. Students and
instructors alike are happy with the quality of the OER materials used in the classes. 96% of the students
enrolled in the courses have rated the quality of the OER content as equal to or better in quality to the
textbooks used in other classes.
DeMarte would like to see other schools follow their lead. Tidewater intentionally developed a model that
can be reproduced. All of their curriculum materials are openly available under a Creative Commons
Attribution License, and there is a wealth of additional open resources available. Tidewater staff and
faculty have made at least 12 presentations to others in the last month promoting these types of programs.
He said there are a number of key things that are necessary to make an open OER degree program work:
• Commitment from the organization to provide the necessary resources to build the curriculum.
• Engagement from the faculty, who must be willing to venture into unfamiliar territory. At Tidewater,
Prof. Linda Williams played a key role in making the degree a reality.
• Engagement with the larger OER community. Tidewater worked with Lumen Learning to set up this
degree program
• A key role for librarians to work with the staff and faculty
• Continuous effort to fine tune and improve the program

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After the panel, Michael Carroll and I talked briefly to DeMarte, who discussed how he wants others to
adopt OER. He told us “I don’t want to hear any more about students who didn’t take a course because
they couldn’t buy the book.” Down the road he would like to see a repository of Open Educational
Resources that evaluates what exists based on student outcomes, and that identifies gaps in OER offerings
for others to fill.

Source: http://infojustice.org/archives/32374

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College Textbooks Don’t Need to Break the Bank:
10 Tips to Save You Money
Posted: July 22, 2014
With the summer now halfway over, students and their parents are looking ahead to college in the fall. In
addition to budgeting for rising tuition costs, students are facing ever-increasing costs for their textbooks.
Over the past decade, textbook prices have grown at three times the rate of inflation. This additional
expense only adds to the trillion dollar debt problem our students currently face.
According to the College Board, books and supplies now average around $1,200 per year, almost 40%
of the cost of tuition and fees for a community college student. Sometimes it’s even more. So what’s a
student to do?
Even though textbook prices can be pretty outrageous, there are many ways to reduce how much you
spend. Being smart about how you shop could save you hundreds of dollars this year.
Follow these ten tips to save on college textbooks.
1. Find your ISBNs. Every book has a unique identifying number called an ISBN that helps you find the
exact product you want no matter where you shop. Colleges are supposed to provide ISBN information
in course catalogs, so that’s the first place to look. You can also find them through the bookstore or by
contacting your professor.
2. Shop online. You can find a wide range of booksellers online that may offer steep discounts compared
to bricks-and-mortar bookstores. Popular sites for online shopping include Amazon.com, Half.com and
Textbooks.com. You can also search multiple sites at once through price comparison services such as
CampusBooks.com and BigWords.com. Make sure to look for coupon codes and special sales through
sites like RetailMeNot.com, and through retailers’ Facebook and Twitter feeds.
3. Rent textbooks. This is probably your best bet if you don’t plan to keep the book at the end of the
term. Most schools rent books right on campus, and there are also online options including
Chegg.com and BookRenter.com. You can also rent textbooks digitally through sites like CourseSmart.
com or CengageBrain.com -- just beware of expiration dates and printing limits.
4. Get to the bookstore early. The bookstore is a great place to shop if you value convenience and want to
make sure you get exactly the right materials. However, they only stock a limited supply of used copies,
so if you’re looking for a discount it’s best to get there early before they run out. You can find other tips
from the National Association of College Stores here.

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5. Buy directly from other students. Other students on campus may have a leftover copy of your
book, especially for popular courses, and cutting out the middleman can keep more money in your
pocket. Try asking around, searching for posts on Facebook or Craigslist, or looking for an on-campus
bookswap. There are also student-to-student trading sites like doUdeal.com.
6. Check the campus library. Some libraries have reserve copies of common textbooks that you can use
for a few hours at a time, which can help if you don’t have your own copy. Librarians are also experts
at finding alternatives, so even if they don’t have your book, they can help you look for other library
materials on the same topic.
7. Look for alternate editions. It’s always better to get the exact textbook your professor assigns, but if
you really can’t afford it, try searching by title and author to find discounted versions. Older editions
are usually dirt-cheap and typically cover most of the same information. So are international editions
that are printed for other countries at a fraction of the U.S. price. Also, for books that have been
customized for your campus, copies of the standard edition might actually be available for less. Just
make sure you have a classmate fill you in on any different page numbers, workbook questions and
new information.
8. Borrow a copy. Professors usually get their copies of the textbook free from publishers, and sometimes
they have an extra that you can borrow. Or if you’re really in a bind, you can try to borrow a classmate’s
copy.
9. Save your receipts. A $2,500 federal tax credit is available to some students for textbook costs and
other qualifying higher education expenses. That means you may be able to count the money you
spend toward your federal taxes. More information is available from the IRS here.
10. Advocate for open educational resources. The best way to change textbook prices in the long run is
to get the word out about affordable alternatives. So, in addition to saving money for yourself, make
sure your professors and school administrators know about open educational resources, which include
textbooks, readings and video lectures that are free online for everyone to use, share, and adapt to
the needs of a course. Some campuses are already using these materials like Tidewater Community
College, which created a 2-year degree program with zero textbook costs, and Rice University, which
is publishing top-notch free textbooks for popular college courses. The University of Minnesota has
created an online library of free, open textbooks that professors can easily search. Learn more about
these solutions and how to advocate for them by visiting sparc.arl.org/issues/oer.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nicole-allen/college-textbooks-dont-ne_b_5610282.html

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How to Save up to 70% on College Textbooks
Published August 20, 2014
While the cost of class materials is going up, students are
spending less on average. Here’s how they’re cutting their
costs—and how you can, too.
Ask Sandra Kerley how important it is that she’s able to get
textbooks for free, and she’ll [tell] you that this seemingly minor
benefit is “life changing.”
“It helps us pay the electricity bill; it helps us put food on the
table for the kids; it helps us buy other supplies for class,” says
the 35-year-old Kerley, a third-year business administration
student at Tidewater Community College in Virginia. Her
school’s “Z Degree” program relies solely on free, open-source
textbooks to eliminate a substantial part of what’s driving
up the cost of college: the often prohibitive expense of class
materials.
The price of new printed textbooks continues to rise—up more
than 7% last year alone, according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, and 82% between 2002 and 2012, as calculated by
the Government Accountability Office.
Even as these costs soar, however, the average student is actually spending a bit less now than in the past.
Between the 2011-12 and 2013-14 school years, the U.S. Department of Education reports, the average
amount students spent on books and supplies declined by 2% at public, four-year universities and colleges
and a little less than 1% at private non-profit institutions. The average outlay is now around $1,200 for
students at both types of schools.
Here are three reasons why students’ outlays have come down—and how you can make sure yours do, too:
1. A burgeoning rental market. More and more students are renting their course materials instead of
buying them, which can save hundreds of dollars over the course of an education. In 2009, roughly
300 colleges and universities had rental programs. Today, more than 3,000 do, according to the U.S.
Public Interest Research Group.
That has pushed down prices throughout the rest of the market, says Richard Hershman, v.p. for
government relations at the National Association of College Stores: “Textbook rental programs…
[have] created a lot of residual competition and forced publishers to sell digital products at
better prices.”

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Your move: Investigate renting. A new copy of the 10th edition of Campbell Biology lists for $230,
but a paper copy can be rented from Chegg.com for $67 (with a December 19 return) or $110 for an
e-book (with a 180-day subscription). This option doesn’t make sense for a book you’ll need to refer
back to later. Nor does it make sense if you’re tough on books or are likely to miss the due date—you
could end up having to pay the list price minus any rental fees. In those cases, buying an ebook rather
than renting it ($160 from Amazon for Kindle) or getting the book used ($179 on Amazon) may be a
better option.
2. More advance warning. The 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Opportunity Act required
publishers to disclose their prices to faculty or whoever is in charge of selecting course materials.
Universities and colleges, in turn, have to list that information on their online course schedules so that
students can start shopping around early.
Your move: Start comparison shopping as soon as the list is released, since you won’t have time to be
as price sensitive if you begin the day before class starts. Check out all the different ways you can get
your hands on the book. The electronic edition could be cheaper than the rental or vice versa. Buying
it online could cost less than shopping at the campus bookstore, or vice versa. Keep in mind that
stores sell out of used stock quickly, so you’ve got to get there early to get the pre-owned copy.
3. The open-source revolution. Groups like PIRG are advocating for more open-source textbooks, which
would be free to students online and relatively cheap to download.
Tidewater isn’t the only school that has started to integrate these materials into their courses. The
University System of Maryland ran a pilot program last spring at the behest of its student council.
Eleven faculty members from seven institutions across Maryland participated. Roughly 1,100 students
saved a total of around $130,000 in just one semester.
“Faculty are open to this, and they are eager to do what they can to cut costs for students, but they
have to balance that against quality of the materials,” says M.J. Bishop, director of the Center for
Academic Innovation. “That will be the biggest hurdle going forward.”
Your move: Lobbying faculty to move toward open-source texts is noble, but probably won’t realize
savings this semester. Because there are those who believe all information should be free, you can find
pirated copies of many texts online for free, but keep in mind that this is illegal. You can stay on the
good side of the law by looking up books that have exceeded their copyright dates and are now in the
public domain—most useful for literature courses—at sites like Project Gutenberg or Google Books.
4. Students opting out. The other reason for the decline in what students pay for textbooks is more
troubling, says Nicole Allen, director of open education at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic
Resources Coalition, an alliance of research libraries based in Washington, D.C. “There is a really
alarming trend of a lot of students not buying their textbooks because the price is too high,” she says.

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“Overall student spending on textbooks may be down, but the question is how much of that is because
students haven’t bought the books they were supposed to because they can’t afford them.”
That trend was confirmed by a report released last year by PIRG, which surveyed more than 2,000
students at 150 universities and found that roughly 65% had decided against buying a textbook at
some point because it was too expensive.
Your move: Really can’t afford the book? Find a friend to share with: Either someone who took the
same class last semester who still has their book or someone who’s in the class with you this term. You
could also ask the professor if he or she has put a copy on reserve in the campus library, and if not,
whether a previous edition of the book will suffice. You can save as much as 70% by purchasing even
just one version prior. Campbell Biology 9th edition used, for example, will cost you only $69 used and
$30 to rent on Chegg.com.

Source: http://time.com/money/3145064/college-textbooks-save-cheaper-rental-used-online-ebooks/

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Colleges Aim to Cut Textbook Costs
Published September 4, 2014
Many families are struggling to afford college in the face of
rising tuition, as well as housing and other unavoidable fees.
Add in the skyrocketing cost of textbooks, which spiked a
startling 82% between 2002 and 2012 according to a report
from the Government Accountability Office, and many students
may have to skip buying books or forfeit their educational
aspirations altogether.
In response to this unsettling issue, publishers, schools and students alike are looking for ways to make
required materials more accessible.
Students have been forced to become more cost-conscious, often opting for used or rented versions over
new books. Fortunately, federal law states that colleges must post lists online of the necessary course
materials, which allows students to use price comparison tools to get the best deals.
Meanwhile, other students are dealing with this financial challenge by acquiring their textbooks through
illegal measures, such as photocopying or scanning them from other students or downloading them from
pirated websites, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Chief Executive and President of McGraw-Hill Education, David Levin, told the Journal that the use of
interactive software has also been on the rise. Not only is it typically cheaper than print textbooks, it also
have the advantage of digitally tracking students’ progress via quizzes. E-books were expected to provide
the perfect solution to the rising cost of books, but many college students still prefer print copies.
Whether or not they prove to be a successful replacement for printed books will depend on their ability to
offer an interactive experience, enabling users to highlight sections and write notes in the margins, among
other features.
Some schools are getting creative to help cut costs for course materials. For example, Tidewater
Community College in Virginia developed a Z Degree program, which provides open-source textbooks for
free, according to The Hechinger Report. The University System of Maryland also ran a pilot program
for a similar initiative last spring, in which 11 faculty members from seven institutions across the state
participated. In just one semester, about 1,100 students saved approximately $130,000.

Source: http://www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com/articles/colleges-aim-to-cut-textbook-costs_14286.
aspx#.VM-mxcaIjKP

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Reducing college costs could
mean end of textbooks
Published Thursday, 13 Nov 2014
There is much talk these days about the ways colleges,
and perhaps the government, can reduce the cost of
higher education. But one option for reducing expenses
has mostly flown under the radar: radically transforming
the textbook.
While soaring debt loads at high-priced private colleges
attract the most media attention, the College Board has
noted that half of all full-time students attend institutions
that charge tuition and fees of $10,300 or less. And for
students at those institutions, textbooks can be a big chunk of the cost—and even the difference between
affordability and unaffordability. The College Board estimates that the average student spends $1,400
per year on textbooks and course materials. Over the course of four years, that would be the equivalent of
almost one-fifth of the average $29,400 in debt student borrowers carry at graduation.
David Ernst, the executive director of the Open Textbook initiative at University of Minnesota, Twin
Cities, points to data that illustrates the challenge some students have covering the costs of textbooks:
A Minnesota State University Association survey found 59 percent of students had been forced to delay
purchasing textbooks until they’d received a financial aid check, and seven in 10 students had forgone
purchasing a required textbook due to cost.
But those costs may start going down. A small, but growing, number of schools are beginning to explore
the use of open-source materials instead, an option that—if adapted widely—could one day render
traditional textbooks obsolete.
“The educational publishing industry is fundamentally broken when it comes to serving the purpose it’s
designed to serve,” said Kim Thanos, co-founder of Lumen Learning, a Portland, Oregon, start-up at
the forefront of this movement. It has helped more than 50 colleges facilitate what are known as open
textbooks.The basic concept: Curate the vast quantity of academic material in the public domain into
courses and let instructors adapt the information as they see fit. No textbook necessary.
The early adopters have mostly been community colleges, whose students are generally most sensitive
to high textbook prices. After looking at the data on how textbook prices were causing students to drop

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courses, for example, Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, Va., last year became one of the first in the
country to offer a complete degree without textbooks: the Z-Degree, an associate of science in business
administration produced in partnership with Lumen Learning.
Linda S. Williams, a professor of business administration at Tidewater and the faculty’s team lead for the
development of the Z-Degree, said students have so far enrolled in more than 1,100 Z-Degree courses.
“This is an opportunity for us to strip a course down to the learning outcomes and then select only the
content that is directly tied to the outcome,” Williams said. “There’s no teaching Chapter 8 just because
it’s between 7 and 9.”
She estimates the adoption of open-source materials in place of traditional textbooks has saved students
a total of about $100,000 in materials. (The school pays a $5 per-student, per-course fee that it is
contracted to pay to Lumen.) And such cost savings may not be unusual. A report from Student PIRGs,
a student advocacy group, found that replacing traditional textbooks with open content could reduce
materials costs by as much as 80 percent.
David Wiley, the chief academic officer at Lumen Learning and a former associate professor of
Instructional Psychology & Technology at Brigham Young University, predicts that sometime soon—maybe
as quickly as the next five years—open source materials could lead to the end of textbooks for lower level
and general education courses, especially at community colleges where students are most cost-sensitive.
“When you can see time after time after time data showing that students learn more and pay significantly
less—why would you ask students to spend more money to earn less?” he asked.
The textbook industry, of course, sees things differently. David Anderson, Executive Director of Higher
Education at the Association of American Publishers, an industry trade group, said that the open source
evangelists are missing much of what the industry is already doing to bring down costs. He points to a
recent demonstration he saw of an art history textbook: the print edition has a list price of $207.95 but an
online version, complete with a navigable tour of Versailles, is just $70.
“Improved platforms will dramatically reduce costs and improve quality,” Anderson said.
Everyone agrees on that. The question, however, is what role traditional textbook publishers and opensource providers will play in the new world of textbooks.

Source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102146519

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Z as in Zero: Increasing College Access and Success
through Zero-Textbook-Cost Degrees
Published January 6, 2015
The Hewlett Foundation gives nearly $8 million each year to get Open Educational Resources (OER) into
mainstream use. We believe that one of the natural consequences of widespread OER adoption will be
an increase in students’ educational access and success—with the average U.S. college student now
spending $1200 each year on textbooks and other course materials on top of tuition, it’s easy to see how
those costs are hindering lower income students from attending college. And that’s not all: a 2014 study
by the Student Public Interest Research Group showed that a majority of college students actually base
course selection decisions on textbook prices and avoid courses with expensive content. Other students
simply don’t purchase required textbooks or show up on the first day of class without a textbook because
the cheaper used version they found online is still at the online merchant’s warehouse. Amazingly, the cost
of textbooks now sometimes exceeds the cost of tuition, particularly at the community colleges that have
traditionally provided a lower-cost alternative (e.g., programs at Cerritos College in California).
But there is light at the end of this dark textbook tunnel. Last year, faculty and administrators at Tidewater
Community College (TCC) in Virginia accomplished something remarkable. Relying heavily on OER, TCC
designed a curriculum that allows students to skip nearly $3700 in textbook costs and achieve a two-year
degree in Business Administration. The “Z-Degree,” as it’s known, has had some incredible impacts. In
the first year of Z-Degree implementation, TCC saw a significant increase in the percentage of students
completing courses with a C or better, while simultaneously cutting the cost to graduate by 20-30%. TCC
also saw a significant decrease in withdrawal rates among students enrolled in the Z-Degree. In a recent
report, TCC administrators indicated that they are hopeful that other institutions will follow their lead:
“Tidewater intentionally developed a model that can be reproduced. All of their curriculum materials are
openly available under a Creative Commons Attribution License, and there is a wealth of additional open
resources available.” Indeed, several other institutions and systems are developing or have developed their
own zero-textbook-cost degrees, including the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), the Virginia
Community College System, the Washington State Community College System, Thomas Edison State
College, and the University System of Maryland.
The zero-textbook-cost degrees at institutions like TCC and NOVA represent models that other institutions
can adopt or adapt to help their own students lower the costs of higher education while increasing
college access and success. Additionally, the OER used in these model degrees allow faculty to select,
adapt, and/or create materials that are aligned with the learning outcomes of their courses and learning
profiles of their students, giving them greater flexibility and academic freedom in course design and

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delivery. Importantly, the zero-textbook-cost degree is a concept that is easily understood with relatively
low barriers to implementation. A significant investment from philanthropy and government to encourage
other institutions across the country to experiment with this model has the potential to start a movement.
Indeed, this kind of movement has the potential to effectively solve the textbook cost and access issues
faced by students And since OER is the most practical means for establishing zero-textbook-cost degrees,
it could also directly promote large-scale adoption and adaptation of OER in higher education (a goal of
particular importance to the Hewlett Foundation), creating an infrastructure for improving teaching and
learning through adaptable, localizable curricular materials.
I see two ways that the zero-textbook-cost degree movement could take hold on campuses: a large-scale
persuasion campaign directed toward colleges to convince them to do the right thing; or forcing colleges
to create this type of degree, primarily through legislation that would mandate (and hopefully fund) their
creation. Persuasion makes more sense to me. Given the important role of academic freedom on American
campuses, colleges have traditionally resisted reform efforts imposed on them from the outside and often
find ways to work around such changes rather than embrace them. A bottom-up approach driven by faculty
and embraced by college administrators is far more likely to lead to changes that will be broadly accepted
on campus and endure.
The persuasive approach could include three main components: (a) spreading the word about the zerotextbook-cost degree concept, (b) direct fiscal incentives for institutions to establish their own degrees, and
(c) research about the impact of the degrees on college access and success to encourage further efforts.
Spreading the Word. Communicating about the concept by highlighting the work of institutions that
have established zero-textbook-cost degrees has great potential to attract mainstream media and create
an atmosphere of excitement around the idea. Many non-profit organizations have expressed interest in
offering their expertise on how to share the story of the Z-degree. Support for such activities could increase
the likelihood of successfully bringing the concept to scale.
Direct Incentives. The second component to this approach could involve directly incentivizing institutions
to establish their own pathways for students to complete a degree without textbook costs. With funding
from philanthropy and government, a grant competition could be created where institutions propose plans
for establishing their own zero-textbook-cost degrees and apply for funding to support their efforts. A
competitive RFP process would allow institutions to determine the approaches that work best for them
in their own contexts and allow them to maintain academic freedom. The scope and potential impact of
the competition would be determined by the funders and other organizations involved and the amount of
funding available. An existing or newly formed non-profit could facilitate the RFP process, similar to
the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) funded by the
MacArthur Foundation.

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Research. As zero-textbook-cost degrees are implemented across the country, research could be conducted
to analyze the impact of degree establishment on student access and success, as well as on faculty
pedagogical practice. Metrics related to access and success might include credit loads, withdrawal rates,
persistence rates, pass rates, and actual cost savings. Establishing a research agenda and including data
sharing requirements in the RFP could lead to deeper understanding of the impact of the program and lead
to further expansion of the concept throughout the U.S. higher education system.

Source: http://www.hewlett.org/blog/posts/z-zero-increasing-college-access-and-success-through-zerotextbook-cost-degrees

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APPENDIX

APPENDIX A

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APPENDIX B

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We would like to acknowledge the contributions of the following
individuals, without whom this project would have been impossible.
THE FACULTY TEAM:
Okema Bowers, Adjunct Faculty/Employee Training and Development Manager
Lisa Carter, Professor, Information Systems Technology
Pamela Dale, Assistant Professor, Mathematics
Lynette Hauser, Assistant Professor, Biology
Natalia Kuznetsova, Adjunct Faculty
Sean Lacroix, Instructor, Economics
Maura Lansing, Adjunct Faculty
Elizabeth Lohman, Adjunct Faculty
Debra Porter, Associate Professor, Accounting
R. Lyn Rainard, Faculty Liaison, eLearning
Diane Ryan, Assistant Professor, Speech
Darlene Stoll, Adjunct Faculty
Linda Williams, Professor, Business Management and Administration

THE Z-DEGREE ADVISORY BOARD AND SUPPORTING INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS:
Dr. Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani, President, TCC
Marian Anderfuren, Associate Vice President, Interactive Communications/Public Information Officer, TCC
Marcee Andersen, Academic Dean, TCC
Ken Ballard, Director of Programming and Systems Development, TCC
Cynthia Cadieux, Academic Dean, TCC
David Carter-Todd, Information Technology Analyst, VCCS
Deborah Edson, Interim Dean of eLearning, TCC
Joseph Fairchild, Academic Dean, TCC
Vicki Friedman, Communication Specialist, TCC
Cory Hooper, Media Specialist, TCC
Sandra Kerley, Work-Study Student, TCC
Steve Litherland, Associate Vice President for Libraries, TCC
David Lippman, Developer, MyOpenMathLab
Anthony Macera, Associate Director of Institutional Effectiveness, TCC
Kevin McCarthy, First Year Success Coordinator/Interim Dean of Students, TCC
Carolyn Mclellan, Academic Dean, TCC

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THE Z-DEGREE ADVISORY BOARD AND SUPPORTING INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS:
John Morea, Associate Vice President, Learning Technology Applications, TCC
Bridgett Passauer, Director, Auxiliary Services, TCC
Kerry Ragno, Academic Dean, TCC
Randall B. Rice, Director, Military Academic Programs, TCC
Richard Sebastian, Director of Teaching and Learning Technology, VCCS
Kellie Sorey, Associate Vice President, Academic Effectiveness, TCC
Jenefer Snyder, Academic Dean, TCC
Maura Spreen Counselor/Adjunct Faculty, TCC
Sarah Swager, Information Center Manager, TCC
Iris Wang, Coordinator, eLearning Support, TCC
Kelly Wilcox, Programmer/Analyst, TCC
DIA, Inc.
Lumen Learning

“Education is the most powerful weapon
which you can use to change the world.”
– Nelson Mandela

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