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Open Educational Resources (OER) at ACC

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.

Instructional Development hosted a Faculty Summer Institute dedicated to OER in June of 2016, with more than 35 faculty participants. Faculty learned about OER, and how they are used in colleges and universities to improve student outcomes.

In 2016 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.

In June of 2016, Austin Community College became a member of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER).

For more information, please contact one of the ACC Librarians or the Instructional Designer on your campus.

What are OER?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are low-cost or free resources in the public domain that are used for teaching, learning and research. They include a variety of content and formats under Creative Commons or open use licensing, from textbooks to simulations to assessment tools.

“OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.” – The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation


Typically, OER can be combined or adapted by the faculty member to suit their teaching needs and methods. In addition to the pedagogical advantages 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.

An early example of OER is the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) OpenCourseWare featuring content and materials from more than 2,000 MIT courses. This model, started in 2002, has since been replicated at colleges and universities around the world.

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:

Textbook Heroes

Library Services identified ACC faculty who are teaching with Open Educational Resources, free, or other low cost course materials. Visit the ACC Textbook Heroes.


ACC Learn OER includes a series of self-paced online learning modules. Faculty can browse topics or complete module activities and assessment to receive 2 hours of professional development credit.


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.

Access the OER LibGuide

Also, as members of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) you may access the information on their site.

Access the CCCOER Resources


Name Area Phone Email Location
Carrie Gits Library Services (512) 223.7386 RGC & HLC
Dr. Susan M. Thomason Instructional Development (512) 223.7796 HBC 604.6
Gaye Lynn Scott Associate Vice President, Academic Transfer Programs (512) 223-7841 HBC 604.4