Scottsdale Community College to introduce textbook-free program

(submitted photo)

(submitted photo)

Scottsdale Community College is the first college in Maricopa County to launch a “textbook-free degree” program, using open educational resources designed to save students as much as $3,700 in textbook costs.

According to a press release, the hybrid Associate of Art degree pathway will offer a combination of in-classroom and online courses at the rate of $86 per credit hour.

Offering the textbook-free degree is a natural step for SCC, which has been at the forefront of using open educational resources course materials for many years, the release states. The math department, for example, has documented $260,000 per year in savings for students through the use of OER rather than traditional textbooks.

SCC also is part of the Maricopa County Community College’s “Maricopa Millions OER Project,” which launched in 2013 to radically decrease student costs by offering low-cost or no-cost options for course materials. The project’s cumulative savings for students to date is nearly $6 million, according to the release.

SCC’s textbook-free degree program, modeled after a similar program at Tidewater Community College in Virginia, is leveraging the increasing accessibility of open educational resources.

These high-quality electronic course materials have been released under intellectual property license and reside in the public domain. Materials include complete course modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software and more.

“Textbook costs can total up to a third of the price of a college education at our community colleges,” said Dr. Jan Gehler, president of Scottsdale Community College in the release. “SCC’s new textbook-free associate degree program greatly reduces education expenses, while giving students ready online access to their course materials. It’s a meaningful and efficient complement to in-class learning.”

Students enrolled in the hybrid textbook-free degree program will have a combination of both in-class and online learning, which is a growing model for college courses and programs. The program also features embedded student support services including tutoring, advisement and an orientation to hybrid learning.

“Reducing the in-class requirement better accommodates students whose busy work and life schedules might otherwise hinder their pursuit of a degree,” said Lisa Young, faculty director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at SCC in the release. “Having course materials available online enables students to virtually attend lectures, conduct research, study or even complete exams when it best fits their schedule.”

In line with national trends, SCC has seen positive results from its other hybrid learning programs in which students participate in both in-class and online learning, the release states. In many cases, students enrolled in hybrid courses outperform their in-class and solely online peers. SCC’s new textbook-free degree program expands the college’s hybrid learning model while further reducing the financial burden of college.

Courses being offered in SCC’s textbook-free hybrid program beginning with the spring 2017 semester include Introduction to Psychology (PSY101), First-Year Composition (ENG101), College Mathematics (MAT141), Survey of American Music (MHL155) and Buried Cities and Lost Tribes: Old World (ASB222).

Enrollment for the spring semester is underway, and classes begin Jan. 14. Regular, reliable Internet access is a requirement for students enrolling in the textbook-free degree program, according to the release.

Students complete the same amount of work as their peers taking in-person courses. Each three-credit course in the hybrid program includes an hour and a half per week of in-person learning,  an hour and a half per week of online content review and three to six hours per week of homework.

To learn more about SCC’s new textbook-free degree, or to enroll in textbook-free courses for the spring 2017 semester, email textbookfree@scottsdalecc.edu or call 480-423-6108.

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