LBW helps students save book costs

Published 1:20 am Tuesday, July 10, 2018

LBW Community College students are experiencing financial savings as more courses are converted from typical textbook usage to open education resources (OER).

“A few years ago, our mathematics faculty successfully redesigned several basic math courses using OER material, saving students more than $300,000 on average each year they would have paid for required textbooks and computer codes,” said LBWCC President Herb Riedel.

“Now, as we convert more and more courses in academic transfer and technical training, the cost savings will continue to climb.”

OER is a national trend for two-year and four-year institutions of higher education, he said.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported in 2013 that textbook prices rose 82 percent between 2002 and 2012, at three times the rate of inflation.

“For at least the last 15 years, more and more materials in a number of subject areas have become available online. By using freely accessible, openly-licensed material, students are saving a lot of money.”

According to the Hewlett Foundation, OER are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.

OER include text, video resources, software, labs, and an enhanced textbook experience with hyperlinks to many other resources, Riedel said.

“Some LBWCC faculty are currently offering OER in courses they teach with several more working toward that goal.”

OER is already available or being developed at LBWCC for courses in psychology, physical science, general chemistry, welding, industrial electronics, and many others, he added.

“With the majority of our students eligible for Pell Grant funds, the money they save by not having to buy textbooks is money in their pocket. Any grant funds remaining after tuition and fees are paid are sent to the eligible students with no restrictions on how they spend it.”

The refunded money can be used for living expenses, such as rent, gas, groceries, and clothing, he said.

“Pell Grant refunds are typically spent locally, helping the local economy, instead of being used to support publishing companies outside the state through buying textbooks.”

LBWCC was recognized on a national level this year by the American Association of Community Colleges for the various approaches to student success, including cost savings in the redesigned math courses, he added.

“We are always seeking opportunities to help our students succeed, and will continue efforts to utilize OER when possible.”

Fall semester registration begins July 13 with classes beginning Aug. 20, 2018. For more information, visit