Students at Austin Community College will soon have the option of pursuing certain degrees without having to pay for expensive textbooks.
A consortium of two-year colleges in Texas, including ACC, has been awarded a $300,000 grant to help develop courses using mainly online materials that are free or available at minimal cost to students.
“We know that students sometimes don’t buy textbooks because of the cost, which then impacts their performance in a class,” said Charles Cook, ACC’s executive vice president and provost. “Research tells us that providing free and low-cost books and materials can have a significant impact on achievement and persistence rates.”
Students will eventually be able to earn an associate degree in general studies entirely through classes using so-called open educational resources, said Gaye Lynn Scott, dean of liberal arts. That could save a student up to $4,000 compared with the cost of courses using conventional materials.
The consortium consists of ACC, the Alamo Community College District, El Paso Community College and San Jacinto College. Each member of the consortium is getting $75,000 to develop several courses that will, in turn, be shared with the other members. ACC will develop two government courses, two in physics, one in math, three in biology and a student success course.
ACC’s first such offering is planned for spring 2017, and all of the courses are expected to be developed by the end of 2018, Scott said.
Funding is from Achieving the Dream Inc., a nonprofit organization whose open educational resources initiative involves a total of 38 community colleges in 13 states.