RVCC Students Receive Significant Cost Savings by Using Free Educational Resources


RVCC Students Receive Significant Cost Savings by Using Free Educational Resources

Monday, October 24, 2022
male student with glasses and brown-haired female student

Raritan Valley Community College continues to help students reduce their educational costs by providing free instructional materials in a growing number of classes. Since 2018, the use of free Open Educational Resources (OER) has saved RVCC students $3,076,844.19 in textbook costs.

Approximately 75 RVCC faculty members use free online resources in their courses instead of expensive textbooks. These resources can be downloaded, edited, and shared. In addition to the cost savings, students benefit by using course materials that can easily be customized by their professors.

“Our students face any number of challenges starting, continuing, and completing their education, so we want to ease the burden of textbook costs as much as possible for them,” said RVCC Instructional Services Librarian Megan Dempsey, who has spearheaded the project with assistance from the OER Steering Committee, which she chairs.

“Beginning this fall semester, when students register for classes they can see if a course has a zero-textbook cost or a low-textbook cost of less than $45. They can even search for ‘no cost’ and ‘low-cost’ courses as they are building their schedule. Students are able to find classes that not only fit their educational needs, but also fit their financial needs, and this is really important in supporting students to be successful and remain in college,” added Dempsey. The initiative has received financial support through the RVCC Foundation.

When faculty choose to use OER in their classes, they discover new ways for students to be involved in their learning process. Several RVCC faculty are exploring open educational practices, including Open Pedagogy, which give students greater freedom in how they demonstrate their learning. Students can create new content that is in turn openly licensed and shared with future students or with the public.

For example, students in Professor Melanie Lenahan’s General Biology OER class learn how to develop scientific communication about research studies and their summaries are then published by Sciworthy, an online OER science encyclopedia. And students in the Foundations of Education class, taught by Professor Kathy Suk, have created educational videos and infographics that can be used during future semesters to teach challenging concepts to new students.

In addition, a major project to create a fully updated Business Law OER textbook is being funded by the RVCC Foundation. Professor Melanie Morris will be writing substantial updates to the course’s 10-year-old OER textbook and adding new assignments that encourage critical thinking and application of concepts. The new OER textbook will be shared publicly for adoption by other institutions.

RVCC continues to work toward offering degree pathways with minimal textbook costs. In the College’s Liberal Arts degree, for example, 51 of 60 credits in the program can now be taken as zero-cost courses, which is 85 percent of the program.

Dempsey noted that when students were surveyed about using OER, 60 percent of the respondents said it improved their ability to complete their assignments, and 52 percent said using OER increased their satisfaction with the learning experience.

For additional information about Open Educational Resources at RVCC, contact Megan Dempsey at megan.dempsey@raritanval.edu.

Ranked by WalletHub.com and Niche.com as the #1 community college in New Jersey in 2022, Raritan Valley Community College has been serving as an academic and cultural center for Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for over 50 years. The College has been nationally recognized for its service to the community, environmental stewardship, and commitment to diversity. It is home to  a Planetarium, Science Education Institute and 3M Observatory; a Theatre offering professional performances for all ages; and an Honors College for high achieving students.

The College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training and professional development courses. RVCC is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu.



October 24, 2022

Media contact: Donna Stolzer, 908-526-1200, ext. 8383

PR #37