Will this massive collaboration between universities spur open ed?

Open education thrives in California through new large-scale collaboration between major universities.

collaboration-openchem-UCICalifornia colleges and universities are spurring the open and accessible movement, specifically in relation to STEM education, thanks to a new partnership signaling a cultural shift in higher-ed collaborative relationships.

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) announced a partnership on Monday (March 9th) with the primary systems of education in California—University of California (UC), California State University (CSU), and California Community Colleges (CCC)—with the goal of providing UCI’s university-level chemistry curriculum and educational resources to teachers, students and self-learners in California and around the world.

One of the major benefits of this collaboration, says UCI, is that it allows faculty and students to have free access to chemistry lectures and other materials through the release of fully captioned, ADA-compliant video lectures.

“This partnership extends UC Irvine’s commitment to open education and its worldwide impact, with a focus on the needs of students in the California public education system,” said Gary W. Matkin, UC Irvine dean of Continuing Education, Distance Learning, and Summer Session. “It advances our goal of a world where high quality education is available to all for free.”

(Next page: Why California believes collaboration is the future; details of the partnership)

The “next big step” in higher-ed collaborative efforts

As part of this partnership, UCI will be offering its Open Chemistry (OpenChem) curriculum to the CSU and CCC systems. OpenChem was initially developed as part of the open education resource movement, and, according to UCI, is the most comprehensive effort to provide a full curriculum’s worth of lecture classes at no cost to universities and colleges, individual professors and departments, students, self-learners and others worldwide.

According to Marshall S. Smith, former Undersecretary of Education, the offering of full curricula is “the next big step.”

“Making knowledge open to the entire world is a wonderful result of the World Wide Web,” said Smith, a recent senior counselor to current U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. “UCI has taken the next big step in this direction by presenting their entire undergraduate chemistry curriculum in an open format. This is a wonderful gift from a superb institution in the world’s greatest university system.”

UCI OpenChem provides free and open access to 16 quarter-length undergraduate and select graduate chemistry lecture classes. In addition, UCI is working to leverage its initial investment in extensive lecture series through increased collaboration with other open educational resources, such as UC Davis’ ChemWiki dynamic textbook.

“Our collaboration with UCI and the California Community Colleges is consistent with our values and public mission and confirms our commitment to accessibility and the growing movement toward low-cost and free solutions for higher education,” said Gerry Hanley, Ph.D., the assistant vice chancellor of Academic Technology Services and Executive Director of the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) for the California State University Office of the Chancellor. Hanley is also responsible for state and grant funded tri-system open textbook project,

Historically, California community colleges were the first tasked by the state to provide universal access to higher education.  The Distance Education Captioning and Transcription grant (DECT) of the California Community Colleges provided the means to ensure that the curriculum is accessible to all students, including those with disabilities.

“Our cooperation is an example of how open education can be used to prepare our students to succeed beyond their community college experience and throughout their academic career,” said James Glapa-Grossklag, dean of Educational Technology at College of the Canyons, which hosts DECT. “Through the captioning effort, our students and faculty gain access to these high-quality open educational resources, including being able to preview courses that students take as Chemistry majors after transferring to CSU or UC.”

The intention of UCI’s OpenChem is to ease the bottlenecks in chemistry education. “The flexibility of OpenChem is that it permits adoption at many different levels: remediation for students prior to entering general chemistry studies, supplemental studies for advanced high school and undergraduate students, and concurrent support for chemistry majors throughout their undergraduate years,” according to Larry Cooperman, UC Irvine’s associate dean for Open Education and President of the 300-member global Open Education Association.

For more information about OpenChem visit For more information about the Distance Education Captioning and Transcription grant hosted by College of the Canyons, visit and

Material from statements were used in this report.

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