As part of the Achieving the Dream (ATD) OER Degree Initiative, CUNY’s Office of Library Services (OLS) was awarded a $320,000 grant to create complete degree programs with no textbook costs at three of the university’s community colleges—referred to as “Z-Degrees,” as in zero textbook cost. In addition to the grant money provided Lumen Learning will provide technical assistance, SRI International will evaluate the initiative and conduct research on how OER degrees impact student success and the institutions providing them. OLS worked with CUNY’s Computer Information Services office to enable global LTI integration (full interoperability) with Lumen for CUNY’s 24 instances of Blackboard, CUNY’s course management system, so the technical work is already completed.
- Efforts are now underway to convert three associate degree programs into Z Degrees—Criminal Justice at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), Early Childhood Education at Hostos Community College, and General Education with a concentration in History at Bronx Community College. Each will convert approximately 25 courses including all major requirements and a selection of General Education requirements. Ultimately, it will benefit 76,000 students. Once implemented, the courses in these zero-cost textbook degree programs will be available for instructors in similar programs across CUNY (and the world) to adopt and adapt as they wish.
- One opportunity for student savings is in large enrollment courses in popular majors. For example, last year 5,400 students at BMCC enrolled in Introduction to Psychology, and the cost of that textbook averaged $190. If all sections of that course at BMCC employed OER, the student savings would have been $1,026,000.
- Upon full implementation of the Z-degree programs, we estimate annual student savings of $8.1 million at BMCC, $3.4 million at Bronx Community College, and $1.3 million at Hostos.