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Zero Textbook Cost - OER & Low Textbook Cost Classes: What's ZTC - OER & LTC?

Contents of this Guide

This guide includes information on two types of classes: 

  • Zero Textbook Cost - OER (ZTC - OER) --> All course materials are free and available online. 
  • Low Textbook Cost (LTC)--> Total course materials are $50 or less.

Student Success Opportunities & Statistics

  • Americans hold over $1 trillion in student loan debt.
  • Since 1978, college textbook costs have increased 812%.
  • Five textbook publishers control more than 90% of the $8.8 billion market.
  • If every student had just one of their traditional textbooks replaced with OER or an open textbook, it would save students in this country more than $1 billion dollars annually.
  • OER’s are being used by more than 3,000 faculty members from 750 U.S. colleges.


Rising Textbook Prices Mirror Rising Drug Costs

Adopting OER Materials

As outlined in the Faculty Handbook: "Some departments have selected the books faculty should use in certain courses. Check the course outline to see what books are required or recommended. Except when there is a department-approved text, instructors are free to decide on the textbooks they wish to use. However, keep in mind that students may need to purchase very expensive textbooks for several classes, so consider the cost when selecting materials" (p. 17).

Why Open Education Matters

The Basics

Purpose—to create the nation’s first free open source digital library for college. Grants undergraduates free access to online textbooks for 50 of the most common courses at California public colleges. Students can also pay $20 for a hard copy, arranged through the campus bookstore.

History—September 2012, the California State Senate passed two bills (signed by Governor Jerry Brown), SB 1052 and SB 1053, designed to provide students at public postsecondary institutions with access to free digital textbooks for popular lower division courses and to open source the curriculum to facility members.

SB 1052—established a faculty-run council called the California Open Education Resources Council (COERC)  to select and develop the free digital textbooks for students at state universities and community colleges.

By January 1, 2020, publishers of textbooks used at the UC, CSU, CCC, or private postsecondary educational institutions, to the extent practicable, must make textbooks available in whole or in part for sale in an electronic format and requires the electronic format to contain the same content as the printed version. (Education Code § 66410).

SB 1053—created the California Digital Open Source Library to host the books.

California Open Education Resources Council—nine members drawn from the UC, CSU, and community colleges, create and oversee the book approval process, including choosing the courses, then solicit bids to produce the textbooks.

Creative Commons License —books created under the council must be under this license and encoded in XML (or appropriate format) so they can be reused, including outside California.

2020 Update -  LibreTexts is a full-fledged repository and where a majority of the ASCCC OERI resources are being published. LibreTexts’ goal is to incorporate all existing OER for easy remixing and received $5 million from the federal government for the expansion. 

Rubrics for Evaluating Sources

Evaluate the OER to make sure it is meeting the needs of the course, yourself, your students, and our institution. 

Achieve, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization, has established rubrics for evaluating OER, and these rubrics are used in the OER Commons website to evaluate OER.  They have identified eight areas to consider:

CC License

  NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)