PENDLETON — As a part of its quest to reduce textbook costs, Blue Mountain Community College announced it has saved students $1.1 million since 2015.

According to a college press release, BMCC was able to do this by encouraging faculty to use open educational resources, or OERs.

OERs are learning material in the public domain or under open licensing agreements that instructors can assemble to offer low-cost or no-cost options for their students.

BMCC has used OERs since 2012, but the institution has increased its use as the Oregon Legislature passed bills requiring public colleges and universities to designate courses with low-cost or no-cost materials and to market those materials in their textbook affordability plans.

“Open textbooks can help alleviate the burden of textbook costs for students and provide faculty with content that can be utilized for their courses,” BMCC e-Learning coordinator Bruce Kauss said in a statement. “Open textbooks are full, real textbooks, used by many faculty across the country, and licensed to be freely used, edited and distributed.”

A quarter of all courses at Blue Mountain now use OERs, the press release states.

Kauss said textbook costs are rising at four times the rate of inflation, a fact that causes many students to wait until they receive financial aid to buy textbooks.

Kauss is offering a workshop to faculty interested in incorporating OERs into their courses on Nov. 15.

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