Northern Virginia Community College’s Extended Learning Institute (ELI) is currently being showcased on the OpenCourseware Consortium website for their OER-based General Education Project. The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a worldwide community of higher education institutions and associated organizations “committed to advancing open education and its impact on global education.” NVCC’s OER-Based General Education Project utilizes free and/or open courses materials to deliver a high quality learning experience and lead to a General Studies Certificate and satisfy the first year of the Associate of Science Degree. The project was funded through a 2013 College Innovation Fund grant received from the Virginia Community College System.
Dr. Preston Davis, Director of Instruction at Northern Virginia Community Collegeâ€™s Extended Learning Institute, and his staff of faculty, librarians, and instructional designers used the grant funds not just to reduce costs, but also to create greater awareness of OER among faculty at NVCC and, most importantly, Â improve teaching and learning through the use of engagingÂ new OER content.Â Â—
Currently, the Gen Ed OER project offers twelve courses that have no course material or textbook costs. The courses areÂ ART 101 and 102, ENGLISH 111,112,125, and 251, HISTORY 121, 122, and 262, MATH 151, PHYSICS 201 and 202, and STUDENT DEVELOPMENT 100. A second CIF grant awarded to NVCC in 2014 will allow the college to develop OER for additional second year courses in order to offer a General Education degree with no textbook costs.
Watch the video below to hear the ELI Â team talk the project.
U.S. Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Al Franken of Minnesota have introduced legislation called the Affordable College Textbook Act with the goal of making college textbooks affordable and openly available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.Â Bill S.1704 does 5 things, according to Senator Durbinâ€™s press release:
Creates a grant program to support pilot programs at colleges and universities to create and expand the use of open textbooks with priority for those programs that will achieve the highest savings for students;
Ensures that any open textbooks or educational materials created using program funds will be freely and easily accessible to the public via a CC BY license;
Requires entities who receive funds to complete a report on the effectiveness of the program in achieving savings for students;
Improves existing requirements for publishers to make all textbooks and other educational materials available for sale individually rather than as a bundle; and
Requires the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress by 2017 with an update on the price trends of college textbooks.
In its own press release about Bill S. 1704, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) noted several existing open textbook programs that have proved successful in lowering costs for students, including Tidewater Community Collegeâ€™s “Z Degreeâ€ Program in Business Administration, the first degree program in the nation with zero textbook costs.
Also, last week at the OpenEd Conference in Utah, three OER projects from Virginiaâ€™s Community Colleges were included in the closing keynote: the Chancellorâ€™s OER Adoption Grant, Tidewaterâ€™s Z Degree, and Northern Virginiaâ€™s OER General Education Certificate. The calculated cost savings to students from these 3 projects as well as other OER projects across the nation were tallied at $1 million dollars. (see related post on OpenEd 2013).
These are exciting times, and there is some real momentum developing around textbook affordability and OER. Virginia has a foot in the door. I hope the Commonwealth, and the VCCS, will continue to be a big part of these important efforts.