TCC launched its “Z Degree” – “z” for zero textbook cost – to ease the pain of soaring textbook costs for college students. It partnered with Lumen Learning, a Portland, Ore.-based company that helps educational institutions integrate open educational resources (OER) into their curricula. OER are freely accessible, openly licensed materials helpful for teaching, learning, assessment and research. It is estimated that a TCC student who completes the degree through the textbook-free initiative might save one-third on the cost of college.
“We’re proud to be the first community college to offer a textbook-free degree,” said Daniel DeMarte, TCC’s chief academic officer. “There is no compromise in quality in course textbooks or materials using open educational resources. And we think it’s only going to get better.”
Cost Cutting College Education’s Future
TCC’s textbook-free degree program was a finalist for the national Bellwether Award, given annually by the Community College Futures Assembly.
During the first semester of the pilot program, about 400 students took 16 different “Z” courses, which ran the gamut from English and math to electives and program requirements.
“We estimate we saved those students $40,000 in textbook costs,” DeMarte said. Nineteen courses using OER are in session during the spring semester.