Today, Chancellor Glen DuBois of the Virginia Community College System announced a Request for Proposals for the Chancellor’s OER Adoption Grant. The goal of the grant is to enlist VCCS faculty to help reduce costs for their students by adopting free, openly-licensed materials for their courses. Fifteen proposals will be selected to receive a $3000 grant to be used to customize existing high quality open educational resources (OER) and adopt them as the only required material in a high-enrollment course. Grantees are expected to identify and refine these OER during the spring and summer before piloting them in their courses during the Fall 2013 semester.

In his email announcement to VCCS faculty, the Chancellor offered a compelling reason for providing funds to develop free materials for these VCCS courses:

One significant obstacle hindering the success of our students is the rising costs of textbooks. Because of the exorbitant costs of course materials, many of our students are forced to go without their course texts, or they delay enrollment in some of their courses until they can afford the course materials. To fully succeed, our students need access to inexpensive, high-quality course materials on the very first day of class.

Faculty of fifteen of the highest enrolled VCCS courses, such as introductory courses in Biology, English, Chemistry, and Math, are eligible to submit proposals.

This grant is just one of several OER initiatives currently underway at the VCCS.  The VCCS Reengineering Task Force has assembled a Textbook Costs and Digital Learning Resources Work Group to develop recommendations for reducing textbook costs across the system. In addition, several colleges have been awarded mini-grants through the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund to develop open educational resources for courses at their colleges. Also, the VCCS has joined with SCHEV and other public, post-secondary institutions in the Commonwealth to develop and sponsor the Open & Digital Learning Resources Conference to build awareness of and promote innovative OER initiatives at 2- and 4-year institutions across the state.