AP NEWS

Program Helps Mt. Wachusett Students Save $52,000 on Books

January 12, 2019
Mount Wachusett Community College Criminal Justice Professor Jim Bigelow teaches a class using Open Educational Resources. Bigelow's class was one of 11 that saved students over $50,000 last fall by using freely available resources for instruction instead of textbooks. SUBMITTED PHOTO Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

GARDNER -- Mount Wachusett Community College students in 11 classes saved $52,353.82 in textbook costs during the fall semester as part of an ongoing pilot effort to expand Open Educational Resources (OER) throughout the school.

The pilot program that ran for the first time in the fall semester was part of an ongoing effort at the college to incorporate OERs into the classroom. These resources benefit students financially, with some textbooks costing hundreds of dollars, but there are also benefits to their classroom experience, said Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Michelle Paranto.

“One of the biggest benefits of OER is that students have their material before the first day of class. It is one of the biggest indicators of student success,” she said explaining that sometimes there is a lag between classes starting and financial aid disbursement. “They’re ready to go on the first day of class without dipping into their credit cards.”

Additionally, the open resources can be more engaging and up to date than a traditional textbook. The nature of open resources allows faculty to tap into everything from government documents to videos. There are even entire collections of course materials that have been collected by vetted authors, which allow for a more text-book like experience. Regardless of the particular materials they choose to use, MWCC faculty are undertaking the effort of developing their courses with the assistance of Librarian Ellen Pratt who helps curate the resources.

The student savings were made possible by a pilot program that had 11 faculty redesign their classes around freely available educational resources. The pilot was funded through a $16,235 Performance Incentive Fund grant from the Department of Higher Education as well as college funds. The funding helped offset the additional work required by professors to build up a course using open resources.

The expansion of courses using OERs will continue in the spring semester through funding provided by the Mount Wachusett Community College Foundation. The funding will allow 10 additional faculty to alter their courses to make use of freely available resources.

AP RADIO
Update hourly