San Bernardino Valley College recently hosted an Open Educational Resources (OER) Summit, which included a panel of students discussing the available resources. The panel spoke about the impact traditional textbook costs had on them, and how OER helped them reach their educational goals.

“A lot of times I was really struggling to put gas in my tank and feed myself,” said one of the panelists. “When I was able to have the zero cost textbooks, it was really helpful.” OER are any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt, and re-share them. In spring 2016, SBVC faculty and students voted in the affirmative to support faculty use of high quality open educational resources to reduce the cost of textbooks and supplies for students.

Another panelist described coming to college with little support and guidance, unknowingly paying hundreds of dollars for textbooks and supplies, from which his family had to take out a loan to purchase. However, he discovered OER and found relief in his financial burden. “The fact that I’m having such great success here at Valley is due to the fact that I reached out for those resources,” he said.

In fall 2016, SBVC was awarded an OER grant per the stipulations of the College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015 which incentivizes CCC and CSU campuses to reduce costs for college students by encouraging faculty to adopt high quality open educational resources. OER is an extremely helpful resource for all students alike. Many courses require students to purchases up to two textbooks and possibly an online source that could be over one hundred dollars. One class could cost a student up to 300 dollars, there are other options like EOPS but many students don’t qualify for the program.

In order for a student to receive the full benefits of Financial Aid they must have up to 15 credits per semester (3-4 classes). Many students will still get denied from receiving aid leaving them with few to no options for being able to obtain the quality education they need and desires. Students who aren’t able to afford textbook cost are forced to defer from taking certain classes thus pushing them further away from reaching their goals. OER is an online resource that all students who have the ambition and passion to keep them moving forward to becoming the best students they can be and for a brighter future.

Signing up for OER is a simple investment of time from professors that will produce a positive return from student success outcomes.