Pikes Peak Community College course designer Marc Nash was recognized by Gov. Jared Polis for his collaborative work to advocate for and introduce open educational resources, which are materials for teaching or learning — such as textbooks — that are either in the public domain or free of charge. Nash was recognized alongside five other winners in Gov. Polis’s “Zero Textbook Cost” challenge.

Marc Nash PPCC.jpeg

Marc Nash, a PPCC course designer, was recognized as a winner of Gov. Polis's “Zero Textbook Cost” challenge.

“It’s inspiring to see the progress campuses and educators across Colorado are making in saving students money on textbooks the last few years through the open source educational resources.” Polis said in an Oct. 29 news release. “We’re excited to see the cost savings for students and pursuit of accessible, equitable and high-quality curriculum for Colorado’s learners. I want to congratulate our award winners and all the individuals and programs that are making open source educational materials even more successful in our state.” 

The College Board reports students spent, on average, between $1,240 to $1,440 on textbooks and course materials for the 2018-2019 academic year.

According to Karen Kovaly, a PPCC communication coordinator, “Since fall 2018, PPCC students have saved approximately $3.3 million dollars on these high-quality, freely available (often digital) textbooks and learning materials.”

More than $800,000 in funds are available for colleges this fall through the OER Grant Program from the Colorado Department of Higher Education. The department plans to continue funding projects around the state aimed at innovating curriculum while also saving students money.

“We want the innovative spirit of this work to carry on as we enter our third year of grant funding,” said CDHE Executive Director Dr. Angie Paccione. “Investing in institutions’ pursuit of OER opens so many doors for entrepreneurial approaches to education, and can offer students a more accessible, equitable and relevant learning experience.”

“Z degrees,” or zero textbook cost pathways, offer students an opportunity to undertake their program of study without spending additional money on textbooks. So far in Colorado, there are at least five such programs, with initiatives emerging across the state that provide students more affordable pathways to program completion.

In addition to working to reduce the cost of course materials for students, PPCC has also partnered with Harrison District 2 to offer eligible students the Dakota Promise Scholarship, which funds tuition, textbooks and provides additional assistance to qualified graduates of D2.

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.