Zero Textbook Classes Open Educational Doors


Skyline Community College established a program that began during the fall semester of 2016 known as Zero Textbook Cost & Open Educational Resources. Through the ZTC & OER Program, it helps students reduce educational costs by providing free or low-cost learning materials. This program started because the high costs of textbooks create a barrier that impacts student success.

The ZTC & OER Program started in 2016 when Skyline librarians created a presentation to bring to the attention of instructors and community members that students are spending a lot of money on textbooks that they have to purchase to graduate with an associate degree. At that time, Skyline College recognized that the high cost of textbooks could be a barrier for students in accessing higher education and getting their college degree.

Ame Maloney, the ZTC Program services coordinator indicates that the high cost of textbooks is truly a barrier for students to receive higher education.

“We found out those textbook cost between $2,000 to $3,000. Sometimes for science, math and technology, they were closer to $4,000 to $5,000 and that’s a barrier to higher education,” Maloney said. “So it really starts it out recognizing the financial burden that students are facing with having to buy expensive textbooks.”

At the same time, Maloney also explained the origin of funds for the ZTC Program.

“In 2016, we applied for and received a president innovation fund grant to increase awareness about open educational resources and zero textbook cost resources,” Maloney said. “Based on that effort, we were able to apply and receive the grant from the state of California to expand our work. They gave us a little bit of funding; the second grant we received was to create Skyline’s first zero textbook cost degree pathway.”

According to the Skyline ZTC Work Team Evaluation Summary and Program Overview, it shows how successful it is in helping students to save their money on textbooks. Since spring 2018 through spring 2019, there have been 7,418 student enrollments in ZTC and OER class section with savings of $1,1126,036.73.

In spring 2019, Skyline offered 128 classes with ZTC & OER Programs. Of those classes, math & biology were the majority with ZTC & OER Program services with 19 percent and 17.5 percent respectively.

Raymond Hernandez, the dean of the science, math, and technology department expressed the value of the open educational resource.

“I think the benefits are the cost: one is the financial burden that’s removed,” Hernandez said. “The faculty has the drive and the time to be able to do this; what we see is that those resources are much more relevant to enhance the course.”

Yancy Aquino, a biology professor also indicates the ZTC & OER Program is a benefit for students.

“Students can get access to the materials without having to worry about the cost, and open educational resource is for students to explore since it accesses with different textbooks for free,” Aquino said.

Yu (Julia) Wang, a biochemistry-major, give her opinion on the Open Educational Resource.

“The opening education resource can benefit the students in a way of convenience,” Wang said. “Students do not have to carry all those heavy textbooks around the campus. Instead, they just need the technical resources such as phones and lap tops.”

In addition, Wang likes that she has the ability to choose what form of the class materials she wants.

“As well, students can decide the methods of taking notes and studying. All those E-book and PDF versions of class slides are handy and favorable to students since they can just obtain them easily online with lower prices or even for free,” Wang said.

Zero Textbook Cost and Open Educational Resource not only help students save money, but it also gives students the opportunity to access the possibility of higher education.