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Mt. Hood Community College Accelerates Adoption of OER and Low-Cost Academic Resources

A leader in OER and content affordability, Oregon community college launches online bookstore to enhance student experience, improve affordability and boost retention

Mt. Hood Community College, which is one of the largest community colleges in Oregon and serves a socio-economically diverse population of working adults, commuters, and low-income students in the suburban Portland area, has recently launched a new online bookstore that will dramatically reduce the cost and increase the affordability and accessibility of course content for its 20,000 students. Through a competitive bidding process, the college has selected Norwalk, Conn.-based course content platform Akademos to create a new online bookstore operation that will offer all required textbooks and course materials through an integrated eCommerce experience.

College leadership has stated that measures taken to reduce out-of-pocket costs to students is an investment in their educational progress and success. Expanding access to high-quality, lower-cost course content is essential. This effort enhances MHCC’s digital-first approach to academic resources and content, which has already paid dividends for student success and affordability. As the faculty become more adept users of OER and other digital academic resources, the launch of this online textbook and bookstore operation will allow the college to dramatically increase access to affordable resources.

Nationally, rising textbook costs continue to be a major cost driver for the overall cost of a college education, outstripping the cost of most other consumer goods, adjusted for inflation. The launch of the new online bookstore and course content platform is an extension of the college’s long-running initiative to expand the use of free and low-cost open educational resources (OER) to enhance the student academic experience and increase the affordability of its degree programs. Since 2017, the college’s Textbook Affordability Team has deployed public and private funding to expand access to courses with no-cost or low-cost (under $50) textbooks, translating into $1 million in savings to students.

To reduce their overall out-of-pocket costs from purchasing textbooks, Mt. Hood’s new online bookstore platform offers students a competitive marketplace for course content purchasing and a single location where students can locate textbooks and other required course materials. In partnership with Akademos, the college will also expand access to a wide range of free and low-cost course materials, including digital and hard copy versions of required texts, as well as free and low-cost resources through its internal OER library.

The store launched this summer to support fall term 2021. With the integration of Akademos’ course content platform, faculty and administrators will benefit from a suite of analytics and tools designed to better track student engagement with course-level content and use data to support student success.

“For years, Mt. Hood Community College has been helping to set the standard for how community colleges can make OER and digital course content more accessible to students and faculty, improving affordability and enhancing course quality in the process,” said Raj Kaji, CEO of Akademos. “By lowering barriers to obtaining course materials, Mt. Hood has positioned its students for success.”