Students next year may receive some financial relief from a new online content program, that would eliminate the need to buy expensive textbooks, was one of the topics discussed during the Academic Senate meeting on Monday, Dec. 5.
The Open Educational Resources (OER) program was brought to the attention of the senate by Clayton Gediman, librarian for the Library/Learning Crossroads, during a PowerPoint presentation.
OER offers educational resources, such as textbooks and materials, online at little to no cost. This would offset the costs of certain classes, like math and science, that require expensive textbooks, according to Gediman.
“Some students decide to take classes depending on the cost of the textbook they need to buy for the class,” Gediman said. “With OER, students would be able to take the classes they need, and succeed and not worry about the financial cost to them.”
The program is new at Pierce. A few instructors are implementing OER material into their curriculum, and though there is a growing interest among faculty in the program, it’s a challenge to implement its materials to a wider degree because some instructors have already used textbooks they decided on, according to Gediman.
The deadline for students applying to transfer to UCs and CSUs has been extended due to a low number of applications, according to a report made during the meeting by Sunday Salter, the Director of Transfer Center.
According to Salter, student applications to CSU campuses are down 13 percent. UC transfer applications are also down and the new deadline for UC transfer applications was extended until January 3, 2017.
“I hear in a lot of meetings, especially in our setting, that students who would be coming in as freshman, aren’t coming because there’s employment,” Salter said. “When you can get a job and make a good living, your motivation to get educated isn’t as high.”
Unemployment is currently at 4.6 percent, according to a November report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor. With the level at its lowest rate since 2013. Potential students, who are looking for jobs rather than seeking higher education, may be a reason why college campuses within the district are experiencing a low attendance rate.
Implementing OER at a wider scope at Pierce could be a possible solution to the low number of students currently attending, according to Gediman.
“Students will be looking at schools that offer more classes using free textbooks and materials. For our school to remain competitive, we probably have to offer these,” Gediman said during the meeting.
The senate also passed a motion to reaffirm its ethical code that would prohibit instructors from selling unwanted books to book buyers.
Section 11 of the Textbook Adoption Policy prohibits the sale of desk copies of textbooks to book buyers. The Professional Ethics Committee published the ethical implications of the sale of such copies to buyers.
Mark Levick, adjunct instructor of political science, had some concerns regarding the motion.
“It was the wording of the resolution I was picking on,” Levick said. “The resolution says that professors shall not sell textbooks to book buyers. Our ethics rules apply everywhere, not just on campus, but off. Ethics rules apply 24/7.”