WELLESLEY HILLS, Mass. (September 4, 2020) — Already the most affordable higher education option in MetroWest, MassBay Community College is pleased to announce another significant and cost-saving change in its course offerings. This fall, compared to fall 2019, the College has doubled the number of courses that use free or Open Educational Resources (OER) to 74 courses, which makes these classes more affordable to students.
Open Educational Resources are free or low-cost text, media, and other digital assets which are useful for teaching, learning, and research. They are offered under a Creative Commons license that permits others to reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute them. In this format, students receive free or low-cost (under $40) access and use of the materials without the expense of buying or renting textbooks or other required course materials.
“When it became clear in the spring that the coronavirus would require higher education institutions like ours to move nearly all of our curriculum to an online or remote format, our faculty worked diligently to create new and innovative methods to continue providing a quality, affordable education,” said MassBay President, Dr. David Podell. “As four-year colleges are also shifting to an online format, they simply cannot compete with the price of our courses. In addition to our significantly lower tuition and fees, by utilizing OER, our students save even more money by requiring little to no printed materials. OER courses are closely aligned with our mission of providing an accessible, practical, and affordable education for students who choose MassBay.”
According to the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education’s 2018 article on The Impact of the Open Educational Resources on Various Student Success Metrics, among the greatest challenges for students pursuing post-secondary degrees is cost. “Although tuition has been the largest contributor in the equation of student debt, textbooks and ancillary materials are a key variable as well, especially since many students find it challenging to budget for the cost of books because they typically don’t learn about the true scope of those expenses until the beginning of a semester. Depending on the specific course or discipline, the associated traditional commercial textbook can cost students several hundred dollars each semester (Fischer, Hilton, Robinson, & Wiley, 2015; Hilton, 2016).”
“When I first came to MassBay, I had never heard of an ‘Open Education Resource’ textbook,” said MassBay STEM graduate and Norfolk resident, Vincent Briselli. “Like many students, I was concerned about financing my education, but determined to make the most of my experience. Over the course of my three years at MassBay, I utilized OERs in multiple courses, saving more than $1,250 in textbook costs, roughly the same amount as two courses at MassBay. I never had to worry about buying the correct books before the first week of class, or paying late fees if I rented a textbook for finals week. OERs are oftentimes digital, so I am able to study on the go from my phone. I think OER prepares students participate in classes equally, alongside their peers, with the added benefit of reducing their financial stress. As students prepare for fall classes, I encourage students starting their fall classes to consider courses utilizing OER.”
“We know that Open Educational Resources increase access to course materials, and as a result, students enrolled in OER courses tend to have higher completion rates,” said MassBay Assistant Provost, Dr. Chris LaBarbera. “Students in OER courses save money by not paying for textbooks, and faculty like the fact that students are provided with open access to the materials they need on the first day of their courses, which improves academic performance. It’s a win-win.”
The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education OER Advisory Committee calculates the average textbook cost per student is approximately $117 per course based on figures shared by SPARC (2018), a global OER advocacy group. Given that MassBay has an average of 17 students per course section, and with 74 courses using OER materials, this is an estimated aggregate cost savings of $147,186 for students using OER materials for fall 2020 courses.
MassBay’s fall semester started on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. See MassBay’s complete course offerings; OER courses are noted in the textbook field.
MassBay Community College is ranked by the Brookings Institution as one of the top schools for value added and earned salaries in the workforce. Ranked #1 for two-year colleges in Massachusetts, #2 in New England, and #16 nationally. The College’s facilities in Wellesley Hills, Framingham, and Ashland house day, evening and weekend classes that meet the needs of degree-seeking students and career minded lifelong learners. Online options provide convenience and allow faculty to facilitate the learning process. Since its founding in 1961, MassBay has been accredited by several governing bodies and strives to meet the needs of the diverse local communities it serves.