MCHENRY — Garrett College, the Garrett College Foundation and a private donor couple are combining to fund an initiative to drastically reduce student textbook costs.

The college and foundation, along with part-time Garrett County residents Lori Richards and Ken Newbaker, are teaming up to provide $15,000 annually over the next two years to fund creation of Open Educational Resources by Garrett College faculty. OERs are online resources available to students at free or dramatically reduced costs to replace traditional textbooks and other course materials.

Garrett College has applied for a matching OER grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Whether the ARC grant is funded or not, GC President Richard Midcap said the college and foundation will move forward with the initiative.

“The first wave of OERs, created by Garrett College faculty, have saved our students over $100,000 just in the last two years,” said Midcap. “The challenge is that faculty have to expend a considerable amount of time outside of regular hours to convert their courses to OERs.

The OER initiative, assuming the matching ARC grant, will fund the development of 35 OER-supported courses over the next two years.

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