The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

'Textbook-Free' Degree Being Offered

Tidewater Community College (TCC), with branches in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach, VA, is planning to offer an associate of science degree program in business administration that won’t require the purchase of any textbooks. The school says it’s the first program of its kind and could reduce the cost of the degree by a third.

“I think we have a responsibility as a college to do what we can to help control the costs of textbooks, because we know there are students who can’t afford them,” Daniel T. DeMarte, TCC vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer told eCampus News. “We know there are students who are not successful because they can’t afford them.”

The fall pilot will use open educational resources (OER) instead of traditional textbooks, a move the college estimates will save students who complete the degree about $2,000. Additional academic advising will also be made available to students in the OER courses.

“When a student hears it’s a textbook-free course, that doesn’t mean they don’t have to read,” said Kimberly Bovee, associate vice president for strategic learning initiatives at TCC. “That doesn’t mean they don’t have to engage in the course material and maybe read even more than they’re used to.”

Virginia State University, Petersburg, already uses open digital textbooks in all of the core courses in its business program, while the state community college system is trying to expand the OER courses offered through grants to instructors who develop material for high-enrollment classes that can be shared across the system.

“I think it’s one of the biggest rip-offs in this business,” Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia community college system, said of the cost of textbooks. “I say that not as a chancellor: I say it as a father who just had to give his daughter 600 bucks to buy this semester’s textbooks at a public university.”

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