Major OER initiative targets new degree programs

By Laura Devaney, Director of News, @eSN_Laura
June 14th, 2016

OER initiative

38 community colleges in 13 states will join a national OER initiative to cut costs while improving degree, certificate completion

A major new community college initiative will work to develop degree programs using open educational resources (OER) in an effort to ease textbook-related financial obstacles students often face in higher education.

The national community college reform network Achieving the Dream announced the initiative on June 14, and representatives said they hope it will spur other changes in teaching and learning and course design that will increase the likelihood of degree and certificate completion.

Achieving the Dream will help colleges make OER degrees critical elements of their student success efforts. Lumen Learning will provide technical assistance; SRI International will evaluate the initiative and conduct research on how OER degrees impact student success and the institutions providing them; and the Community College Consortium of Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) will facilitate a community of practice.

At the completion of the initiative, all approved OER courses will be available through a comprehensive online platform.

“This initiative will help further transform teaching and learning in the nation’s community colleges,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Extensive use of OER will enable students to have access to more dynamic learning tools and a richer academic experience at a cost that will help more students complete their studies.”

The annual costs of textbooks are about $1,300 per year for a full-time community college student and amount to about a third of the cost of an Associate’s degree. This cost, research shows, is a significant barrier to college completion. Students who don’t complete college are more than 50 percent more likely than those who graduated to cite textbook costs as a major financial barrier, according to a study by the research firm Public Agenda.

Next page: One state’s experience using open resources

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