Alamo Open coordinator explains program to save students money.
By Sergio Medina
On small white erase boards, a question read, “What would I do with the money I had to spend on textbooks?”
Using a marker, liberal arts freshman Mackensie Villareal wrote down “bought my child more school supplies and save for Christmas.”
This was the scene at Alamo Open’s textbook awareness event March 7 in the courtyard west of Moody Learning Center. It was part of OER Awareness Week.
The event was coordinated by Phillip Anaya, open educational resources and digital coordinator of the Alamo Colleges, and volunteer Carrie Warren.
After Villareal wrote her answer, Anaya used his cell phone to take a picture of a smiling Villareal holding the board and uploaded it to Alamo Open’s Twitter account @alamopen.
Alamo Open is a district program that encompasses ideas from OER to provide resources at no cost to students in the district.
“This event is about providing awareness for students on how to access and find Alamo Open courses,” Anaya said.
During registration, Alamo Open can help students register for courses where instructors use free book resources in the classroom.
“We’re hoping that they can see in writing what they spend in a semester on textbooks and what they would do with that money,” Anaya said.
As she finished participating, Villareal said she has had instructors who favor free resources over expensive books.
“It’s hard to spend money on books than other necessities,” she said.
Villareal said trading in or selling college books at the end of the semester returns little money compared to the purchase price.
As the brisk warmth of the sun hit the tent that morning and popular music played from a portable speaker behind the table, business management sophomore Caprice Diaz approached to participate.
She said events like these “help 100 percent.”
“I love activities like these,” Diaz said. “They make us more aware of what’s on campus.”
Diaz said money spent on textbooks could be used to pay for gas instead. She said students sometimes have to ask friends for rides.
Anaya said this spring is the second semester they have brought the event to this college.
He said free educational resources are important for students.
“It’s important because at a community college you’re paying around $88 a credit hour, so it’s around $240 a class — a three-hour course,” Anaya said. “Average textbooks are $100 each. So you’re doubling the cost of education in Alamo Colleges by using a textbook, and with this you’re creating that avenue to either provide food for your family or pay day care.
“So if we can reduce the cost of their education by half, they can stay in school and finish faster and have a more engaging experience in education,” he said.
Anaya said in an email March 9 instructors “curate the free resource through a variety of online databases like OER Commons and other free resources through our library subscriptions.”
He also said Alamo Open launched IM Direct, which is a “program where publisher grade materials are tied to the course through a fee.
“We make sure the cost savings are beneficial to students,” Anaya said.
English Professor Laurie Coleman leads the OER committee at this college and works in conjunction with Anaya to bring about events like these.
For more information about Alamo Open and OER, call Coleman at 210-486-0663.