It’s called the Z-Degree, and Northeast Iowa Community College estimates that the new initiative will save students thousands of dollars in textbook costs. The “Z” stands for zero – as in zero textbook costs. Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, VA, first developed this type of degree in which an entire two-year associate’s Z-Degree pathway could be achieved by taking courses using open educational resources (OER). OER are freely available resources that can be downloaded, edited, and shared to better serve all students.
Over the last decade, the price of college textbooks has soared. Since 2006, the cost of a textbook increased by 73% – more than four times the rate of inflation. Today, individual textbooks often cost over $200, and sometimes as high as $400.
The College’s Liberal Arts Associate’s Z-Degree will be launched in fall 2018. By using OER instructional materials and texts, students will have no textbook costs; OER is a free resource and will be digitally accessible within the College’s Brightspace learning management system. Students enrolled in the Z-Degree will earn their degree by completing eight-week classes offered in five sessions throughout the year. The new program is open to all students who want to pursue a Liberal Arts Associate Degree, but Z-courses will also be available for open enrollment by all students.
The initial 20 OER-based Z-courses to be rolled out during the 2018-19 school year are currently in the design process with faculty and campus instructional designers. Throughout the process, there is course content collaboration across the district between Calmar, Peosta, and the Dubuque Center faculty.
For more information about the Z-Degree, visit NICC.edu/zdegree. Prospective student questions about the Z-Degree may be directed to Angela Pyzocha, NICC admissions representative, at (563) 556-5110, ext. 312, or firstname.lastname@example.org.