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Zero Textbook Cost Resources (ZTC/OER/LTC)

This guide provides information about ZTC and Open Educational Resources; including information on finding resources by discipline and creating OERs


The library is here to help you with ZTC and OER. Contact the Open Education Librarian ( if you want help with:

  • Understanding ZTC or OER
  • Finding Open Education Resources for your classes
  • Reviewing Creative Commons license terms
  • Editing and/or creating OERs

Why ZTC at MVC?


  1. Looking at 2022-2023 MVC course data, ZTC course success rates (79.7%) were 10.7 percentile higher than the average for all other MVC courses (69%)
  2. In 2022-2023, student retention in ZTC courses at MVC was 88.9%, compared to 87.5% for all MVC courses
  3. Using the unduplicated headcount for 2022-2023, MVC saved students up to $798,450 through ZTC courses
  4. By using OER, we can customize the course to match/fulfill the learning objectives/outcomes of the course in a way that a publisher text wouldn’t
  5. Students report worry about meeting their course material costs. According to one study on course material cost, 81% of students said their level of worry was "moderate" or "extreme". Further, students in this study claimed that course material cost caused them to earn a poor grade (38%), go without course materials (34%), not register for a course at all (32%), or drop or withdraw from a course (33%).
  6. Students report that they like hearing from a range of expert voices instead of just one voice and especially appreciate diversity in the readings. With textbooks, we generally hear voices with cultural power  
    • That expert voice can often be a marginalized group whose research doesn't float to the top because their voices have been blocked by dominant cultural narratives
  7. Sometimes students make stress-driven decisions when the text is expensive (like trying to complete the course without the text or dropping the course or taking fewer courses). This speaks to an additional part of the equity component
  8. Openly licensed materials open the conversation for us to talk about copyright with students (which we often neglect). When students understand more about the copyright they hold on their own work, they respect copyright on a new level and plagiarism reduces.
  9. OER allows for the most current event examples to be used in classes where cultural and news-cycle references are relevant

ZTC Defined:


ZTC (Zero-Textbook-Cost) classes have no textbook-related costs, including access fees for online materials. Such classes often use Open Educational Resources (OER) created under a Creative Commons (a public copyright license) that give people the ability to share, use, and build upon a work that has been created. They may also use class copies, library e-books, class sets of books, journals, open access course materials, or other sources so there is no cost to the student.

Class sections at RCCD are designated as being “Zero-Textbook Cost” if they meet the following:

  •     If all assigned materials are optional for the section.
  •     If all assigned materials are identified as Open Educational Resource (OER) textbooks.
  •     A for-cost (print) option is acceptable as long as a no-cost option is available that all students enrolled in the course have access to use.
  •     If the assigned textbooks (including course readers and for-cost titles purchased by the college) are available in-print or online for free for the duration of the class (e.g. library e-books/database content or class copies) for each student AND students are not required to buy a physical copy or access to an electronic version.
  •     If the library offers free access to textbooks, course readers, or other sources that require institutional access.
  •     If there is no assigned textbook

Materials that can be considered part of the ZTC

  •     Textbooks and other text-based materials
  •     Workbooks or lab manuals
  •     Homework platforms and codes and/or publisher-provided curricular materials for students.

Materials that are excluded from ZTC

  •     Standard supplies (e.g. pencils/paper/blue books)
  •     Calculators
  •     Class fees
  •     Required non-textbook printing or copying
  •     Necessary learning materials such as musical instruments, art supplies, camera equipment and other such materials that have continuing and lasting value beyond the class term


LTC Defined:

Low Textbook Cost (LTC) designated course sections are those whose required course textbooks and ancillary resources may be purchased at the Moreno Valley College bookstore for a combined pretax amount of $50 or less, which may include either physical or electronic materials.

  • Materials must be available for purchase at the MVC bookstore for $50 or less.
    • Even though the material(s) may be available cheaper elsewhere students using college bookstore voucher must purchase them from the bookstore. Contact the bookstore manager for help with bookstore pricing.
  • The $50 amount is a pretax amount, so taxes do not need to be factored into the material’s cost.
  • This amount is only for required materials; optional materials should not be included in the calculation of this amount.
  • This designation only uses the costs of new materials, unless sufficient used quantities are available for all students through the college bookstore. Contact the bookstore for more information.
  • This may be for either physical or electronic materials.
    • For example, if an electronic version is available for $35 and the physical is available new for $55 then this section would qualify as LTC.
  • If a textbook is used across multiple courses, then DO NOT divide the cost by the number of courses.
    • For example, if a $120 text or subscription is used in 3 courses then it does not qualify as LTC (since not all students may take this series of courses, editions may change, or students may face time constraints)

Materials included in this LTC designation:

  • textbooks and other text-based materials
  • workbooks
  • lab manuals
  • online homework platforms
  • codes for publisher-provided curricular materials
  • personal student subscriptions (one-time or ongoing)
  • printing costs (if required)

Materials excluded in this LTC designation:

  • art supplies
  • class/lab fees
  • calculators
  • testing materials (e.g. scantrons and blue books)
  • equipment (e.g. musical instruments, uniforms, cosmetology or culinary kits, computer software, or external storage)

OER Defined: 

"'Open Educational Resources' are high-quality teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license, such as a Creative Commons license, that permits their free use and repurposing by others, and may include other resources that are legally available and free of cost to students. 'Open educational resources' include, but are not limited to, full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, faculty-created content, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge."

Source: Section 67423 of the California Education Code (College Textbook Affordability Act of 2015)

Is OER the same as ZTC?

OER resources are a form of ZTC 'zero cost' resource. However, not all ZTC resources or courses are OER. OER is a more open and sustainable approach to ZTC.

Join the Course Materials Affordability Committee (CMAC)

Working alongside other Senate committees, CMAC oversees the expansion and use of ZTC and OER materials at Moreno Valley College. We determine the guidelines and definitions of ZTC, and guide the distribution of OER grant funds for many projects.


An Introduction to Open Educational Resources, CC-BY Iowa State

"An Introduction to Open Educational Resources" by Abbey Elder is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 International license: This video is intended to serve as an introduction to OER for college professors.

The 5 Rs of Open Resources

The 5Rs of Open Resources

Open content is licensed in a way that grants users the permission to:

  • Retain: Make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  • Reuse: Use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  • Revise: Adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix: Combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute: Share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., post a copy of the content online for others to download)

This material is based on original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at: Defining the "Open" in Open Content and Open Educational Resources.

Recommended Open Education Books at the MVC Library

The library has a number of useful titles on Open Education:

Open Education Librarian

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Daniel Wilson
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