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Open Educational Resources (OER) and Zero Textbook-Cost (ZTC) Materials: Getting Started

Learn about Open Educational Resources and Zero-Textbook Cost Degrees at BCC

Since 2016, Bronx Community College has received funding from New York State to address the high cost of commercial textbooks and prorietary learning platforms. It is evident, perhaps especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, that course material and book costs totaling as much as $1,200 a year can be prohibitively expensive for our students. Open educational resources (OER) and zero textbook-cost materials (ZTC) offer freely available, high-quality books and other materials that can be edited, remixed, downloaded, printed, and shared. If you are interested in developing a new OER/ZTC course or converting an existing course to the use of OER/ZTC, please feel free to contact Open Resources Librarian Nicole Williams.

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

(source: Hewlett Foundation)

The 5 Rs of Openness

Retain: the right to make, own, and control copies of the content

Reuse: the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)

Revise: the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)

Remix: the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)

Redistribute: the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

(source: David Wiley, Lumen Learning)

Beyond Open - Dr. Robin DeRosa

Expanding Open Educational Resources at BCC

Bronx Community College has participated in multiple initiatives designed to increase student access to courses that use Open Educational Resources (OER) and Zero-Textbook Cost (ZTC) materials as alternatives to traditionally published textbooks.

CUNY-wide grants
Beginning in 2017, CUNY institutions (including BCC) have received dedicated support from New York State to engage faculty in the redesign of courses and replacement of commercial textbooks with OER/ZTC materials available online and through the CUNY libraries. The near-term goal of this effort is to eliminate course material costs for students where possible and to accelerate their progress in their studies. Longer-term, this initiative seeks to change institutional culture in ways which better connect curriculum and pedagogy. 

Achieving the Dream grant
For a two and a half year period ending in 2018, Bronx Community College received support from Achieving the Dream's OER Degree Initiative, part of a nationwide effort to help address the high cost of textbooks. As a result of this funding, it is now possible for students to complete an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences (History Option) at BCC while taking only classes that use OER as required materials.  Learn more about how OER Degrees have transformed the experience of CUNY students and faculty.

How to get involved
Faculty who are interested in integrating OER/ZTC materials into their classes, both within or outside of the initiatives above, may contact Professor Nicole Williams of the BCC Library.


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Nicole Williams
North Hall & Library


  • Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative at Hostos Authored by: Elisabeth Tappeiner, Hostos Community College. Located at: CC BY: Attribution.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Proper attribution is to Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative at Bronx Community College and Nicole Williams.