Open Educational Resources (OER) at ACC
Open Educational Resources (OER) are low-cost or free teaching, learning, and research resources in the public domain or released with an open license. They include a variety of content and formats from textbooks to simulations to assessment tools.
Typically, OER can be combined or adapted by the faculty member to suit their teaching needs and methods. In addition to the pedagogical advantages of allowing faculty to assemble the resources they choose to create diverse learning environments for students, OER can also help lower the cost of education for students, thereby increasing access.
The widespread adoption of OER at an institutional level began in 2016. Most recently, in Fall 2021, 956 ZTC/OER course sections were offered, benefiting more than 17,000 students.
Did you Know?
From Spring 2017 through Fall 2021, faculty who have adopted ZTC/OER materials for their courses have saved ACC students an estimated $12 million dollars!
Why use OER?
OER supports a future where students and faculty have free unfettered access to high-quality educational resources that can be easily adapted to create student-centered classrooms. Using OER can provide tremendous cost savings for students while improving student success and completion rates.
Faculty using OER enjoy great freedom in selecting course materials that they customize to fit the specific needs of their students and the goals of their courses. Since most OER permit adaptation, educators are free to edit, remix, and openly share OER materials.
What are Z-Degree Classes?
The development of courses with no textbook costs, often referred to as “Z-Courses” (Zero Textbook-Cost Courses), is one of Austin Community College’s strategic initiatives in an effort to increase access and lower the student debt ratio for graduates. Learn about the General Studies degree that can be mapped out to the Z-Degree pathway. Students may consult with an advisor to map out their Z-Degree pathway in General Studies.
Z-Degree classes use free materials and OER to save students money. Students can take an individual Z-Degree class or make them an essential part of their degree plan.
Getting Started with OER
Full-time and adjunct faculty interested in adopting or adapting Open Educational Resources (OER) or developing courses with no textbook costs can get started by:
- Contacting a Librarian or visiting the Teaching Consultations & Support page for assistance.
- Accessing the inventory of OER materials OER Commons, OERTX, Open Textbook Network, or OpenStax to find materials related to your course.
- Talking to departmental colleagues or peers in your discipline who are currently using OER in their courses.
Looking for OER created by ACC?
Library Services identified ACC faculty who are teaching with Open Educational Resources, free, or other low-cost course materials.
ACC Learn OER
Want to learn more about OER and find available resources in your discipline? Check out the OER online faculty professional development training:
Faculty can browse topics or complete module activities and assessment to receive professional development credit and a certificate.
Faculty Events Calendar
For the latest events and training, please visit the Faculty Events Calendar and choose the “OER” tag to view a list of available offerings.
As members of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) you may access the information on their site. ACC is also a member of Open Education Global, an associate consortium of CCCOER.
Austin Community College has developed a LibGuide with links to resources, tutorials, and other great information to learn about OER and no-cost instructional resources. ACC Librarians are available to help with finding OER for teaching.
OERTX is a free digital repository of open educational resources (OER) for Texas students and educational institutions. The repository is searchable. You can also contribute to the repository and collaborate with others.
- As a result of ACC’s OER efforts, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) invited ACC to serve as an early adopter and contributor to a statewide OER repository, OERTX, by creating a Hub space specific to ACC OER.
- Librarian faculty and classroom faculty OER consultations continue – 8 completed.
- Faculty continue to engage in professional development via the ACC Learn OER course modules – 14 faculty have completed modules.
- ACC Hub on OERTX has 54 OER that are either in use or authored/created by ACC faculty. These 54 OER represent 6 of our current Areas of Study (AoS). We look forward to adding more OER as faculty adopt additional resources or create their own.
- ACC faculty, staff, and librarians attended and/or presented at the OpenTexas 21 Conference in April.
- Statewide grants ACC faculty have received and/or applied for:
- In the 2020 cycle, one ACC faculty member received a THECB $5000 OER grant. Psychology faculty member Sadaf Sajjad is working on an OER related to Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 2301) that includes Global Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies (GS/PAC) topics.
- The Communication Studies Department applied for one of the 2021 THECB OER GEER Grants ($25,000 Development Grant).
- In Fall 2020, 1081 ZTC/OER course sections were offered, benefiting more than 20,000 students.
- Spring 2020: 875 ZTC/OER course section offerings benefiting more than 19,000 students.
- During the 2019-2020 academic year, ACC participated in the OpenStax Institutional Partnership Program. Through this program faculty awareness and adoption of OER increased. Read more about the college’s experience in the program and outcomes in this August 13, 2020 Faculty / Staff Digest article, ACC students have saved more than $10 million in textbook costs.
- Austin Community College (ACC) is one of ten colleges and universities nationwide selected to participate in the 2019-2020 OpenStax Institutional Partnership Program to expand the use of free, peer-reviewed textbooks known as open educational resources (OER).
- Update – Since launching Z-degrees and zero textbook cost (ZTC) classes in 2017, ACC students have saved more than $3.5 million in textbook costs. Enrollment is up to almost 4,800 sections to date.
- ACC was awarded the prestigious STAR Award from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) for the College’s accomplishments and efforts in saving thousands of students money in textbook costs.
- ACC participated in the Achieving the Dream OER Degree Initiative Grant. The College officially launched two OER degree pathways (now branded Z-Degrees) in the Associate of Arts and Associate of Sciences in General Studies. These pathways create opportunities for students to earn a degree by enrolling in courses which use OER or other freely available course materials, hence zero textbook cost (ZTC).
- Instructional Development hosted a Faculty Summer Institute dedicated to OER with more than 35 faculty participants. Faculty learned about OER, and how they are used in colleges and universities to improve student outcomes.
- ACC was one of 38 community colleges to receive the Achieving the Dream Grant OER Degree Initiative Grant. The goal of the grant was to develop an OER degree pathway for students. As part of a Texas consortium with San Jacinto Community College, El Paso Community College and the Alamo Colleges, the college developed and reviewed OER courses in the General Studies degree pathway. As a result of the grant, ACC now offers two OER or Z-Degree pathways – an Associate of Arts in General Studies and Associate of Sciences in General Studies. Branded as Z-Degrees, zero cost textbook courses in these pathways have saved students over $3 million since 2016. Courses developed by all 38 institutions under the grant can be found on the Lumen Learning Course directory.
- Austin Community College became a member of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER).
The widespread adoption of OER at an institutional level began in 2016.
Need help creating, finding, and/or implementing open educational resources? Visit the Teaching Consultations & Support page to schedule individual consultations.