30Nov Marion Technical College Launches Classes with Free Online Textbooks by Wendy Weichenthal Marion, Ohio – With many students and parents worried about the cost of college, Marion Technical College (MTC) is now offering classes using quality, free, open-licensed educational materials, including online books, videos, and other learning tools. These open educational resources (OERs) are an innovative way to reduce the cost of college and improve learning outcomes. Since summer semester, nine classes are using OERs, saving 584 students more than $90,588 in textbook costs. “By saving this money I would have spent on books, I have more money to use on gas and food,” said MTC student Alec Sherman. Other students also praised this new effort. “I am very appreciative of the fact that I have saved over $200 on a book for college. College books are very expensive and college itself is not cheap,” said MTC student Sherry Winhoven. “I honestly would not have had enough money after tuition and all the other classes. I would’ve had to delay my admission into college. I would love to see all the classes get on board with online books.” MTC is working to expand the OER into more classes and programs. Here is a current list. “Many faculty members immediately embraced this effort,” said Lori Barr, Open Educational Resources Coordinator at MTC. “Many have revamped classes to use all open resource materials. I’m very excited about that!” Lori Barr, Open Educational Resources Coordinator A survey by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found seven in ten college students skipped buying a textbook due to cost. A whopping 78% of those students expected to do worse in class without the textbook. Dr. Richard Prystowsky, Vice President of Academic Affairs & Student Services “Cost is a huge factor for our students, including many working parents,” said Dr. Richard Prystowsky, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Services for MTC. “We want to make sure our students succeed without having to choose between paying an electric bill and buying a textbook.” This is the most recent in a series of steps to address textbook costs. In January 2017, MTC partnered with an online bookstore, eCampus.com, to provide more competitive pricing on book purchases and rentals. This was estimated to save students at least 18% on textbooks. In addition, some math faculty used inclusive access, where students paid a flat fee for group pricing for all online course materials. All students had access from the first day of class and costs to students were reduced by 25%. This saved students more than $150,996 since fall 2017. The new OER effort now aims to reduce textbook costs for students down to zero. “I enjoy being able to have more control over my course and customize the course to fit our students’ educational goals,” said Tyler Maley, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at MTC. “I am also excited about the prospect of saving students money, which will make college more accessible. This, in turn, will help with student success.” Barr stated that the new OER movement makes classes more student-friendly. Several MTC students agree. “For my first semester, I spent around $400 in textbooks. With that $400, I could have bought almost ten full tanks of gas,” said student Alexis Lingrel. “Why should I struggle through the school year when I don’t have to?” “I love having an actual textbook, but I love that there is no fee for the online books. Given the choice, I would much rather have the online book with no fees. I can be progressive!” exclaimed Jessica Gamble. Students who really prefer a hard copy of books can order a printed version for about $30 or download a pdf or a Kindle or ibook version. Some courses also have audiobooks. While the new books are available at no cost to the student, the quality is the same. “The OER materials are reliable, valid, and professionally developed. They are the same quality as published textbooks,” Barr stated. “Some grants have helped experts develop OER materials.” MTC is one of the most affordable options for higher education in the state. Tuition is about $5500 a year, which can be covered completely by the cost of a Pell Grant. More than 90% of MTC students receive financial aid. MTC is less than half of the cost of tuition, room and board at the main campus of many state universities. More than 2,300 students attend MTC. Since opening its doors 48 years ago, more than 50,000 local residents have walked through the doors to learn new skills, earn new certifications and degrees, and open up new career and educational opportunities. For more, go to mtc.edu or call (740) 389-4636.