Center for Teaching, Learning & Engagement

@ Glendale Community College, Glendale, Arizona, USA

Textbook Adoption: Tick the Box!

Even if you are using a traditional publisher-sourced textbook, this may still apply to you!

Textbook adoption season is right around the corner if it has not already come your way. One question that has come up several times concerns the proper labeling of a class. When you are completing the Textbook Adoption form this semester, please consider ticking the OER(<$40) box.

Several scenarios were brought up to me recently and I want to make the answer as clear as I can.

If you are using a textbook from a publisher and the cost is less than $40 for the semester, please click on the OER (<$40) or Low Cost/No Cost option.

If you are using library sourced materials and your students are not required to spend more than $40 on any materials (total), please click on the OER (<$40) or Low Cost/No Cost option.

If you are using your own materials, powerpoints that you (or your department) have developed, and/or links to readings in your Canvas course, please click on the OER (<$40) or Low Cost/No Cost option.

If your students don’t need to make any purchases because you don’t use materials, or if your students are not spending money on the materials, please click on the OER (<$40) or Low Cost/No Cost option.

Let me clarify. In the Maricopa textbook labeling system, OER refers to ALL of these categories.

As a textbook label, OER does not distinguish between no-cost, low-cost, library sourced, instructor-authored, multimedia, or openly accessible materials. Maricopa includes both OER and non-OER materials in the β€œ(<$40)” designation.

This can be confusing because there is a second category: “No Materials Required”.

The No Materials Required is NOT a textbook label, it is a note that goes to the bookstore. You can choose both categories but if you are only able to choose one tag, it is best to choose the OER label.


When you choose the OER (<$40) tag, a note goes into the course description that lets the students know your course has a low-cost textbook. There are several search options in Find a Class that students can use to find low-cost labeled textbooks. In Find a Class, if you type OER in the keyword search, every class that has chosen the OER (<$40) box shows up. It also allows the OpenEducation@GCC Committee to track courses that can be included in our new Near-Z Degree program.

As of the Spring 2022 semester, 164 courses (486 classes) showed up for the OER search. However, there are several classes that don’t show up and don’t use materials or have low-cost textbooks. Don’t let your class be the one that is missing from the list. Be sure to tick that box!

One last point. Please check the cost of your textbook. No one wants to mislead the students into thinking their textbook is less than $40, only to discover that it is $119. And yes, that has happened. Let’s all make sure we know what we are asking of our students.


Here is a screen capture of Find a Class with the OER (<$40) label as the students see it.

Student View of Maricopa's Find a Class with the OER textbook label
Student View of Maricopa’s Find a Class with the OER (<$40) textbook label, captured from an OER search.

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