Tacoma Community College students aim to reduce textbook fees

Associated Students of Tacoma Community College's (ASTCC) Student Senate voted Jan. 25 to allocate $90,000 from the school's technology fee...

Associated Students of Tacoma Community College’s (ASTCC) Student Senate voted Jan. 25 to allocate $90,000 from the school’s technology fee budget toward the Open Educational Resources (OER) Project, which aims to locate and develop open-licensed teaching materials that can be used by anyone for free. The college is putting together a group to locate and develop the teaching materials, with representation from all faculty divisions and the student body. High enrollment courses are the first targets of the project.

According to Tacoma Community College (TCC) Library Director Sharon Winters, the school studied student costs in 2009-10 and discovered that textbook costs represent about 30 percent of a student’s total costs, including tuition and fees. Several consecutive years of state funding cuts have left the two-year college system with little choice but to raise tuition. But TCC staff has decided that the cost of textbooks can — and should — come down, and is using funds from online course fees to match the $90,000 student contribution.

“If we can bring down the cost of textbooks or eliminate them, we can bring down education costs — and we can improve student retention rates and graduation rates,” said Winters.

All students pay tech fees — a $1.75 per-credit fee that funds technology-related purchases relating directly to student use and instruction. Departments can put in requests for equipment and other technology-related purchases, but ultimately the fund distribution is up to student government. The ASTCC Student Senate creates and votes on a tech fee budget each year.

“This time next year, we should have some materials to work with,” said eLearning Director Andy Duckworth. Duckworth added the goal of the project is to create a clearinghouse of materials instructors can choose from so that they don’t have to be dependent on a textbook to teach a course.

“But there will still be textbooks on campus,” said Winters. “It’ll depend on the instructor, and on the course.”

 

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