Before Brandon English developed his own learning materials for the organic chemistry classes he teaches at Red Rocks Community College, his students were spending close to $600 for textbooks, in addition to paying tuition and fees. And those costs pushed many of his promising students to drop out.
“There’s this huge financial barrier to entry, and then there’s a huge financial barrier to completion,” English said.
English and many of his colleagues on the faculty at Red Rocks in the past few years have pivoted away from costly textbooks, creating and curating their own learning materials that dramatically cut down on classroom expenses for students.
Those materials are known as open educational resources — what the Colorado Department of Higher Education defines as “freely available online teaching and learning materials accessible to students, instructors and self-learners.”
Red Rocks has embraced OER materials so thoroughly that by the end of the spring semester, students will be able to complete an associate’s degree with 95% of their classes using free resources, Library Director Karen Neville said.
That doesn’t guarantee that every…
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