OER Summit addresses textbook cost

Summit talks cost.

Lilly Montero, @lilly_montero3

College affordability, of books in particular, is back on the minds of the students and faculty here at LMC. In the last year, Professors Edward Haven and Scott Hubbard have been key players in making education more accessible and affordable, with the Zero Textbook Cost initiative going into greatly expanding its impact last fall.

The program, which is now referred to as OER, or open education resources, bolstered the number of OER/ZTC classes available to students from just 100 designations to 115.

However, students are still greatly concerned with the ever growing cost of education.

When the three governing bodies at LMC met Monday, Feb. 11 LMCAS Vice President Dale Satre gave a presentation on the need to further address the book issue. Satre advocated for the use of online textbooks to help reduce the cost education has on students.

Local jobs in this area for college students pay wages that are quickly eaten up by the cost of living in the Bay Area,” said LMCAS Vice President Dale Satre. “Textbooks shouldn’t add to the stress of that.”

While his proposal was met with some interest, there was some pushback as well.

“The biggest conflict came from Professor Clark,” said Satre.

Professor Clark, like a handful of professors here at LMC and many in the CSU and UC systems, write and sell their books for their students.

“If a professor likes to write, good on them, but we shouldn’t be forced to subsidize their hobby,” said Satre.

However, researching and writing books is a key part of their livelihoods, especially for those professors at the four-years. Many spend half of their time teaching and the other half investing time into their field of study to provide updated information and new findings.

Nonetheless, the push for cheaper, more accessible materials continues in the Contra Costa Community College District.

On Feb, 22 the OER board held a summit to discuss the cost of textbooks. Newly-appointed LMCAS senator Christian Ortiz was in attendance.

One of the most impactful things discussed at the summit, said Ortiz, was a student panel which revealed how students cope with the cost of textbooks. Some students and faculty were surprised to learn that students will simply take on the cost of a late text book fee from the library, rather than buying the books themselves. Others nodded knowingly and were painfully aware of the reality their students are facing.

“OER’s have a lot of potential in the future and there is a lot of work that can be done to improve the quality of life of students,” said Ortiz of the summit.  

Advocates for OER like Haven, Hubbard and Satre are continuing the push to make sure students aren’t facing these tough decisions.

“I feel like we’re at an inflection point with OER and low-cost textbooks,” said Hubbard in an email. “This is because we have a federal grant to support the development of OER to place on the LibreText website.”

Change is inevitable Ortiz also insisted. For now, however, the movement is looking for their next opportunity to grow and improve access to education.