August 11, 2017 9:57 am

Did you know you can earn an entire associate degree at Pierce College without ever paying for a textbook?

The college’s Pierce Open Pathway program eliminates the high cost of traditional textbooks, removing financial road blocks that could derail students’ progress toward a degree. This degree program allows students to earn a fully transferable associate of arts without ever purchasing a traditional textbook.

Thanks to the growing use of open education resources (OER) throughout the district, students can save upwards of $1,100 on textbook costs per year. These free and low-cost learning materials are available online and are fully vetted by faculty.

Prof. Beth Stevens incorporates OERs into some of her courses, and says they give her freedom to create an engaging learning experience.

The professor of English and Humanities incorporates these learning resources in her classes, selecting the best readings available that fit the learning outcomes for her courses. “I love having the freedom of choosing what I want my students to read,” she said. “I’m able to pull from a variety of very modern resources by using OERs, and I’m not limited to the content in a textbook.”

She admits that creating a class using OERs takes a significant amount of time, but the benefits to students is immeasurable. “These resources increase the IT abilities in students, as well as their media literacy,” Stevens said.

Some of her classes incorporate OERs along with traditional textbooks when necessary. “If I can find something of quality that meets my learning objectives that’s also freely available, I will use that resource in place of a traditional textbook,” she said.

Students must have Internet access in order to access the learning resources, and Stevens also encourages students to be proactive in ensuring they resolve any technical issues before the course begins. “I have been able to teach using TED Talks, documentaries, and so much more than what’s written in a textbook,” she said. “This quarter, I’ll be using a lecture from a professor from Yale, and content from the Smithsonian. I believe OERs are good for students. Some of our students are struggling with their busy lives and tuition costs, and OERs are a great way to remove a barrier to completion.”