OER stands for Open Educational Resources. These resources can encompass teaching, learning, and/or research, and can exist in any medium- digital or otherwise-- that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others. OER often includes full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, videos. Really anything used to support student learning.
ZTC, on the other hand, stands for Zero Textbook Cost. This term refers to the cost of a course. Indicated by the icon to the right, ZTC courses do not require students to buy a textbook in order to take the course. While OER and ZTC share many qualities, they are not exactly the same. All OER courses fit under the ZTC moniker; however, ZTC also includes copyrighted materials such as textbooks and novels that have been purchased by the college and then provided free of charge to the students.
LTC stands for Low Textbook Cost. LTC, while not free, seeks to keep student costs down by limiting the amount of money students will pay for books to $30.
Whatever designation you choose to follow, you will save students thousands of dollars, thus removing a major barrier to educational access.
Success, Retention, and Withdrawal Rates (Fall 2020)
Terrill Mead- Math Professor
"No textbook is perfect, and the same is true for OER texts. But with OER you have the option to rework, rewrite, reorder, or skip content that doesn’t fit your class. Since 2020 I have taught 9 sections solely using OER, saving students over $37,000. That money stayed in our community, serving like a small grant directed to those who need it most, our students! It takes a bit of effort to convert, but the reward is worth it. Your students will greatly appreciate your effort!"
Lucinda Ray – English Professor
"Last fall I converted my English 1A to a Zero Textbook Cost class using OER. It was much easier than I imagined, because of the support and help the department and the library offers. I especially appreciated the peer review of my work, helping me get the OER material appropriately attributed. I could select and edit content from several different OER textbooks for which the library gave me links. The OER content was very similar to content in the textbook students previously had to purchase, so it fit right into the course I had already designed. This not only saved my students money, but it made the beginning of the semester much smoother, since students had the materials they needed immediately, without having to wait for textbook funding from the college."
List of Current ZTC courses and faculty
Here you can view a comprehensive list of ZTC courses offered along with the faculty names.
Majors: English, Pre-Law, Humanities, and Behavioral Sciences
"OER and ZTC are what kept me in school after losing my income and is what made graduation a reality for me. Especially during this past year, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to afford to stay. Finding these courses made it possible for me to get free and cheap books on my already limited budget – all while not having to worry about falling behind on my transfer plans."
"I have been fortunate to be part of some of the ZTC courses at Contra Costa College and it has immensely helped me with my financial situation. Being a full-time student and working simultaneously to cover the living expenses in Bay Area can be challenging. I am sure many can relate to this. With this ZTC program, I was able to save a significant amount which help me to pay for my other expenses. I’m truly grateful for the program and thank you."
Erica J. Villegas Padilla
Major: Ethnic Studies
"ZTC and OER implementations have helped me afford and focus on my academic career. Not worrying about the extra cost of class materials is a HUGE stress saver and a step closer to ensuring an equitable opportunity of higher education for all."
If you need assistance with OER, ZTC, or LTC, please contact:
Laurel Costill - OER Coordinator
Michael Kilivris - ZTC Coordinator
Lori Brown - CCC OER Librarian
Fill out the OER & ZTC Grant Application if you are interested in applying for a grant project.
Visit the OER and ZTC Committee page if you are interested in the committee charge, membership, agendas, and minutes.
1. Will using OER jeopardize UC/CSU articulation agreements?
No. Both the University of California Office of the President and the California State University Chancellor’s office have issued statements that allow for the use of OER materials as long as the provided materials are “stable and publicly available as published textbooks (and not a list of links).” While articulation to private or out-of-state colleges might be impacted, given the increasingly widespread use of OER, it is becoming more likely that the use of OER will not impact articulation regardless of the college. OER also does not impact C-ID designated courses, provided that the materials used meet the above requirement. It should also be noted that the California State University is subject to the same mandate as the CCCs regarding identification of sections using no-cost resources.
--Academic Senate for California Community Colleges
2. Are OER materials inferior to publisher materials?
As with any textbook, quality can and does vary widely, placing the onus on the instructor to curate peer-reviewed OER of sufficient rigor for the course. There are many available materials of high quality worth the consideration of discipline faculty. One such resource is the COOL4Ed page, the result of the work of the California Open Educational Resources Council (COERC) which includes OER resources which have been peer reviewed by faculty in at least two of the public systems of higher education in California. The COOL4Ed page provides not only information about the texts, but reviews and peer evaluations of each of the materials evaluated. The website is a good starting point for faculty interested in integrating OER materials into their courses. In addition, if an OER resource is lacking in some way, faculty can typically modify or supplement the materials to address any deficiencies.
--Academic Senate for California Community Colleges
3. What if I can’t find OER for my discipline?
Due to the growing popularity of OER, high quality materials are becoming more and more available for all disciplines. To begin with, check with your department chair to see if someone in the department is already using OER. Next, contact OER Librarian Lori Brown to discuss your OER needs. Additionally, CCC offers grant funding for faculty to create customized OER for their specific courses. Fill out and submit the grant application today!
4. What if I don’t like the OER that I find?
As with most traditional textbook adoptions, it is unlikely for any faculty to be 100% satisfied with publisher materials. OER materials may have gaps that need to be filled in by supplemental materials. However, since OER has been released under a license that allows adaptation, faculty can edit OER to suit their needs.CCC offers grant funding for faculty to customize OER for their specific courses. Fill out and submit the grant application today!
5. Corporations provide free books for my students. Does this count as ZTC?
Yes. As long as a student does not need to pay for any required books, the course is considered ZTC. Note that students may have to pay for lab materials or required supplies, such as clay, paint, goggles or calculators.
6. Don’t transferable courses have to have textbooks?
Texts do not need to be published in hard copy. The UC and CSU welcome the use of online texts and other Open Educational Resources (OER), so long as the resource is a stable, bona fide textbook, and not just a collection of links to lecture notes or other web pages.
A general search to ensure that all public-facing statements regarding OER and articulation in California are consistent yields the following information on the textbook requirements page of the UC’s TCA (Transferable Course Agreements) policy:
Open Educational Resources (OER), or online/digital texts, are acceptable if they are stable and publicly available as published textbooks, not a list of web links.
Lab science courses must include a clearly identified lab manual in the COR. Lab manuals from either a publisher or compiled by CCC faculty (e.g., “CHEM 001 Lab Manual, CCC Chemistry department, 2019”) are acceptable.
College Success courses must include a community college catalog. A hyperlink to the online community college catalog is acceptable.
In order for a CCC course to be transferable to the UC, it must be approved for the TCA (“Courses approved for the TCA count as advanced standing elective credit toward an undergraduate degree at any UC campus and may also be submitted for campus-specific articulation or for IGETC.”). The 2nd and 3rd bullet points included above are provided as they demonstrate the acceptability of a “homegrown” lab manual and a hyperlink to a document in specific instances.
--Academic Senate for California Community Colleges
7. What does an example of acceptable OER look like?
Writing in College
This is an example eLumen entry for Course Outlines of Record:
Author (last name first). Title. Edition or Version (if beyond 1st). Publisher, Publication year or Revision date. ISBN, URL. License.
Dillon, Dave. Blueprint for Success in College and Career. Version 1.3. Rebus Community, 2018. ISBN 9781989014042, press.rebus.community/blueprint2/. Licensed under CC BY 4.0.
8. What does an example of unacceptable OER look like?
The outline below is considered unacceptable because it is merely a collection of unstable links. These links are not “a stable, bona fide
Introduction to Psychology Chapter 1 – Psychology: Why and What?
Why it’s worth taking psychology (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201008/why-its-worth-taking-intro-psych)
Is Psychology a Science? (https://www.simplypsychology.org/science-psychology.html)
History of Psychology (https://nobaproject.com/modules/history-of-psychology)
Chapter 2 – Research Methods in Psychology (https://www.simplypsychology.org/research-methods.html)
Types of Research Studies (https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-psychology/chapter/types-of-research-studies/)
Ethics in Psychology (https://www.apa.org/topics/ethics)