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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Using OER as Course Textbooks at SDCC

The UC Office of the President, in collaboration with the CSU Chancellor’s Office, released the following statement regarding Open Educational Resources (OER) Textbooks as a reaffirmation of current policy (September 2017):

  • [F]or CSU and for UC, it’s fine to use assembled materials or Open Educational Resources, so long as they’re stable and publicly available as published textbooks (and not a list of links).
  • All CSU and UC campus departments consider the content of textbooks when reviewing articulation proposals from the CCCs. The use of online texts is reviewed by campuses on a case-by-case basis for articulation with CCCs.
  • There are multiple CCC courses that use online texts that are approved for CSU- and UC-transferability, and for articulation with CSU and UC campuses.
  • Some CSU and UC campus departments use online texts themselves.

The Articulation Officer at City College recommends that faculty continue to provide examples of appropriate current bound textbooks to their Course Outlines of Record. The District Office of Curriculum Services is working with Governet to provide a section in CurricUNET for Open Educational Resources. For more information or to ask questions regarding the use of OERs, please contact Elizabeth Norvell, SDCC Articulation Officer (

From Guiding Notes for General Education Course Reviewerspage 8. Published jointly by The California State University and The University of California. Revised November 2016. (Bold emphasis added.)

Proposed courses should include at least one textbook. Reviewers use the representative text as a way to confirm their understanding of course content. It's understood that the instructor in a given section may choose a different text, but the proposed one is still given close attention. It's expected that the structure of the text will be consistent with the course outline. Including additional reading is a good way to demonstrate that multiple points of view will be evaluated, as a means of developing critical thinking.

Texts don't need to be published in hard copy. The UC and CSU welcome the use of online texts and other Open Educational Resources, 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.

Please contact Elizabeth Norvell, SDCC Articulation Officer ( for further information.

The following comes from notes and discussions by SDCCD Articulation Officers and their CSU/UC partners (bold emphasis added):

Notes Regarding Course-to-Course Articulation 

  • CSU and UC campus departments consider the content of textbooks when reviewing course-to-course articulation proposals and course outlines of record (COR) from the California Community Colleges (CCC).
  • The use of online texts is reviewed by UC campuses on a case-by-case basis for articulation with the CCCs. Texts, both online and traditional, must be dated within seven years for most course submissions.

Please contact Elizabeth Norvell, SDCC Articulation Officer ( for further information.

Campus Efforts for OER

From the City College Bookstore:

If you will be using OER materials, please let us know the source and this information will be listed on the District student schedule page. The Bookstore can provide URLs for your review of these free or low cost materials. We can also provide printed copies of most materials for your students at much lower costs than most current textbooks.

If you have any questions or need additional information regarding the process, please contact Sol Madrid (

Virtual copies of OER textbooks and materials can be linked to our library's Reserve system so students can find them easily with the other textbooks assigned to that course. Please email to find out how to do this. 

Hard copies of OER textbooks and materials can be put on Reserve in the Library just like regular textbooks and materials. For example, you can make one (or more) that is Library Use Only and one (or more) that can be checked out.

The campus Duplicating Department will gladly print out a hardcopy of the book for you for just a few dollars (charged to your department). For example, the cost of printing 300 originals back-to-back, spiral-bound, in black & white with a cover is around $5.50. Turnaround time is about two days. Contact Patty Fernandez  at 619-388-3444 ( for more information.

Once you have a hardcopy of the book, please fill out the form below and bring both (item + form) to the Circulation Desk:

San Diego City College was one of nine schools in a nation-wide cohort chosen to participate in the 2018-2019 OpenStax Institutional Partnership Program to encourage use of free, peer-reviewed textbooks on campus. SDCC was chosen to participate after a rigorous application process that included demonstrating willingness to drive adoption of open educational resources (OER). Institutional partners received individualized consulting from OpenStax and joined a cohort of schools advocating widespread use of OER at their schools.

The 2016-2017 cohort of partner schools saw a 150% increase in student use of OER in the 2017-2018 academic year, saving an additional 50,000 students $4.9 million. City College participation was able to save our students over $100,000 in 2018-19.

For further information on this initiative, please contact Dean Robbi Ewell (

The 2018 mini-grant cohort compared OER titles to their current textbook as part of this project. See the link below to read their reviews. 

Faculty Efforts For OER

Many very talented faculty members in our district are actively using and developing OER for their coursework. Please feel free to contact those listed below if you have any questions or were curious for additional information. 

  • Laura Gonzalez ( Miramar College – Collaborative creation of multi-authored Anthropology textbook.
  • Susan Hasegawa ( City College – Uses OER online textbooks, primary sources, and LRC databases for History courses.
  • Jason Librande ( Miramar College – Created online lecture slides and videos materials for General Biology. 
  • Alex Mata ( Miramar College – Uses articles and multiple modes of class materials for Communications course.
  • Marina Parenti ( City College -- Uses low cost learning materials, OER online textbooks, LRC film, documentary, research databases, primary resources, and online lecture slides for History courses. 
  • Arnie Schoenberg ( City College-- Uses OER in his anthropology classes, including his own title Introduction to Physical Anthropology.
  • Duane Short ( Miramar College – Uses multiple modes of class materials for Business course.
  • Carol Withers ( City College -- Created OER textbook for LIBS 101 course.

Faculty from the San Diego region share their experiences with OER in this webinar series hosted by our OpenStax institutional partner Palomar College. Each webinar is about 60 minutes and focuses on different discipline areas.  

District-Wide Efforts for OER

The District Governance Council (DGC) established a subcommittee on Textbook Affordability, which in turn established an OER subcommittee composed of representatives from each of the three campuses and Continuing Education. These groups were then consolidated into the Student Textbook Affordability Committee (STAC).  This group meets monthly to discuss issues regarding OER and textbook affordability activities, including marketing and adoptions. The Academic Senate faculty representative for City College Library is Sandra Pesce  ( 

Progress reports to the Board of Trustees:

Textbook affordability is a significant public policy matter that impacts access to and success in higher education. Research shows that while community college fees have historically remained low, the cost of textbooks and other instructional materials has soared. To help address this issue, the Board has included in its established annual goals since 2016-2017 to "ensure that a strategic approach is developed to reduce escalating textbook costs for students in the San Diego Community College District" with a focus on the voluntary adoption of Open Educational Resources and achievement of 15% of available classes as OER compatible. Since 2016, progress has been made toward meeting these goals through the creation of a Districtwide Open Educational Resources Subcommittee of the Textbook Affordability Taskforce Committee as well as the implementation and completion of a two-year plan.  Further developments in 2019-2020 include a survey of faculty and a comprehensive perspective on lowering textbook costs. The Spring 2021 report examines student success, retention, class schedule icon enrollment, and cost savings from zero textbook cost, no-cost, and low-cost courses that typically use Open Educational Resources to reduce textbook costs for students. The report will be presented by the Vice Chancellor of Educational Services, Dr. Susan Topham.


State-Level Faculty Efforts for OER: ASCCC OERI

From the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges web site:

"The mission of the ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI) is to reduce the cost of educational resources for students by expanding the availability and adoption of high-quality Open Educational Resources (OER). OERI facilitates and coordinates the curation and development of OER texts, ancillaries, and support systems. Through recommendations to the ASCCC Executive Committee, OERI supports local OER implementation efforts through the provision of professional development, technical support, and technical resources."

Click the link below to get to their web page and Canvas course.

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