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PCC Instructors using free textbooks to further ease cost of education

Published Wednesday, November 7, 2018
by Elizabeth Townsend

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Piedmont Community College (PCC) instructors Mark Wencel, Lisa Covington, and Nancy Rouse are helping to alleviate textbook costs by utilizing OpenStax, a source for free online textbooks in the areas of economics, psychology, and sociology.

In fact, this spring, the following courses will use the free online textbooks:
• ECO 251 - Principles of Microeconomics: offered online
• ECO 252 - Principles of Macroeconomics: offered at PCC’s Person County Campus and Caswell County Campus on Mondays, 10:55 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
• PSY 150 - General Psychology: offered online and in person at various times and locations
• SOC 210 - Introduction to Sociology: offered online and in person at various times and locations

These college transfer courses do not require any per-requisites and are offered every semester at PCC. The College’s full schedule is available at www.piedmontcc.edu/schedule where potential students can view the course listing to determine which class that best meets their needs.

When asked about using the free online textbooks, student Caitlin Johnson said, “The textbook is definitely a money saver. It is easy to use and serves its purpose well. While I'd rather have an actual book, the money I saved is worth the cost to me.”

The financial advantage was the main reason Wencel turned to the OpenStax option. “Financially, the students benefit by getting the free textbook instead of paying several hundred of dollars for a traditional textbook that typically will be outdated and replaced with a newer edition in a few years.”

Openstax, a nonprofit educational initiative based at Rice University, believes that every student deserves access to the tools they need to be successful in the classroom. They are focused on “breaking down the most common barriers to learning. Because we believe that a well-educated society profits us all.” According to their website, their content is being used in 48% of college and universities in the U.S. and over 100 countries.

In addition to the texts offered at no cost, PCC students say they also benefit by the search and highlight options found in the program, as well as the ease of access.

“The Openstax text is well organized, and easy to follow. Plus there are other benefits such as constant access to the Openstax text from any internet connection, or the fact that it can be downloaded on tablets and laptops which keeps me from having to carry a big heavy book around. I think that it’s great,” shared student James Smith.

Student Mary Flores also commented, “I do like the fact that I can easily access the online book on my phone. The website allows you to search the book. I think it is a very user friendly and valuable resource.”

"Students save money and reduce stress by using a free online textbook,” states Wencel. “The students are given free access to the textbook the very first day of class. No longer do students need to worry about not having a textbook the first day of class and falling behind with assignments.”