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Category: OER (Page 1 of 5)

OER Degree Initiative Webinar | March 10 @ 3pm

Happy Open Education Week! There’s a lot happening this week in the world of open education and open educational resources, and it’s happening all over the world, from institutions across North America as well as Europe, Asia, and the global south. You can check out all of the exciting events scheduled for Open Education week on the website: I do want […]

Report: Textbook Costs and Student Financial Aid

College textbooks cost too much. If you’ve watched the news or read a newspaper in the past few years, you are aware of this. If you are the parent of a college student, or a college student yourself, you, and your wallet, know this firsthand. The soaring cost of college textbooks is well-documented. Since 2006, the prices of college textbooks have increased […]

Many hands make light work: USDOL adopts CC-BY licensing

OER advocates scored a major victory on Monday with the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL) announcement that it has adopted a department-wide Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license requirement for all intellectual property developed with funds under a competitive Federal award process. Requiring a CC BY license on DOL-funded resources has a number of advantages: The DOL increases the impact, reach and scalability of […]

zELI: NVCC Turns It Up To 11

Lumen_Learning_–_Partner__NOVA_zELILast week the Extended Learning Institute (ELI), Northern Virginia Community College’s online program, and Lumen Learning issued a joint press release announcing that nine of the 24 courses that make up NVCC’s all-OER General Education degree are now available to the public on Lumen’s Candela platform. Eventually, all of these “zELI” courses–Z-Degree + ELI– will be publicly available as well.

Perhaps you are a bit surprised that these courses, and the courses that make up Tidewater Community College’s Z-Degree, aren’t already publicly accessible. Weren’t they created, like, two years ago, you ask? While the courses have been available “by request,” you had to find the unmarked door and know the secret knock to get them. This is the first time a full Z-Degree will be shared on the open web. For those of you shouting, “It’s about time! These are supposed to be open, you know!”  keep in mind that ushering these precious little darlings into the sunlight is more difficult than it looks.

With the eventual release of the full set of zELI courses, along with Tidewater’s Z-Degree courses and the 104 or so courses being developed for the Zx23 Project, it looks like 2016 will bring a dramatic increase in publicly available, high-quality OER courses. It will be interesting to see if having these degree pathways out there for public consumption will spur an increase in adoption of both individual courses and full Z-Degrees. The joint press release is below. You can access the zELI courses on the Candela platform by clicking here:

Hello, I’m MTH 240: Introducing New OER for Statistics

CC-BY-SA: CollegeDegrees360

CC-BY-SA: CollegeDegrees360

Hi there. Let me introduce myself. I’m MTH 240, but you can call me Statistics. I am a blend of OpenStax College’s Introductory Statistics and OER from other trustworthy sources, making me the ideal, and first, open course in statistics designed for students majoring in fields other than mathematics and engineering. Before you take me you should have been exposed to intermediate algebra. With me,  you’re going to learn the application of statistical knowledge rather than the theory behind it. By the way, the foundation of the OpenStax text above is Collaborative Statistics, by Barbara Illowsky and Susan Dean, so you know I’ve got good bones.

Each of my chapters has an accompanying set of randomized, auto-graded assessments delivered through MyOpenMath. My text, and my assessment sets, have been combined into a single handsome course shell in Blackboard Learn, making it as easy as pie to take me home with you. One more thing: Unlike those other textbooks (you know the ones I’m talking about), I am fully editable, so you are free to customize me how you like. How’s that for academic freedom?

Topics I cover include:

  • Probability
  • Descriptive Statistics
  • Distributions: Binomial, Geometric, Poisson, Uniform, Exponential, Standard Normal, Chi-Square, F
  • Distribution
  • Central Limit Theorem
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Hypothesis Testing With One and Two Samples
  • Linear Regression
  • Correlation
  • One-Way ANOVA

Interested? Find me on the OER Courses tab in Blackboard Learn and click Bb Preview to request access. I am sure you’ll like what you see. I know you’re students will.  You can also request a department or personal-level version should you wish to take advantage of this added feature.


Join Us In OER Office Hours, daily

Quick reminder: we have daily scheduled OER office hours at Lumen. Some of these sessions (as announced) will be a meet-up for those collaborating on specific course building and planning, and others will be your open forum for discussions of anything you want to explore in OER theory and practice, including any technical help and support you need. Click here for instructions and to […]

CVCC’s Z-Degree featured in Lynchburg’s News & Advance

Here is another Zx23 Project article from a hometown newspaper–this time The News & Advance, based in Lynchburg, home of Central Virginia Community College. Like today’s R T-D article on JSRCC’s OER project, this one includes multiple perspectives, including interviews with several CVCC students and zx23 Project lead Juville Dario-Becker. Excerpt below:

© Jay Westcott

© Jay Westcott

Out of a half dozen students interviewed for this story, some students had to buy textbooks for most of their courses, but others, like Nicole Ayers, did not. Ayers said she thinks some of her professors are choosing not to assign textbooks because they are concerned about students struggling to pay for them. Realistically, she said, many students chose CVCC because they are financially unstable and CVCC is relatively affordable compared to some other schools. She is enthusiastic about the idea of the new open resource courses and the guarantee ahead of time a class won’t cost an extra arm and a leg.

“I think it will actually encourage people to come to college,” she said. “I think it will encourage people to come specifically to this college.”

You can find the full article here:


Reynold’s OER project in the Richmond Times-Dispatch



Today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch story, Reynolds offers classes with no book costsdescribes J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College’s Zx23 Project, with interviews with students, project leader and English faculty member, Jane Rosecrans, and a few faculty skeptics who are still not convinced about the quality or efficacy of open educational resources. I thought the quote from JSRCC student Eric Eichenlaub was incredibly poignant, and underscores for me why reducing the cost of textbooks is so critically important:

Eichenlaub said he has paid up to $200 per course for a new textbook and supplemental materials to make sure he gets the most from the class.
So he was especially gratified when he enrolled in two of English professor Jane Rosecrans’s American literature courses that are part of a pilot program using free open-source educational materials rather than traditional hardcover textbooks. Eichenlaub, father of twin 14-month-old boys, calculates his savings meant extra cash for diapers, formula or his education.

You can read the full article on the Richmond Times-Dispatch website:

USDOE Hires Open Educator

open_book_neonYesterday during a bus tour stop at the Williamsfield Unified School District in Illinois, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the hiring of the first ever open education adviser to lead a national effort to expand Open Educational Resources (OER) in K-12 schools. I know, I know–this is K12 news, you say–but it is a significant development for all educational institutions that are leveraging OER to improve educational access, opportunity, affordability, and degree completion. Why Williamsfield? Over the past two years, Williamsfield has worked to replace a set of traditional textbooks by adapting and localizing OER, creating a more engaging classroom experience for students and generating savings that the schools reinvested to develop a cutting edge STEM program. Read the full announcement below posted to the SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) blog:

Today the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the hiring of the first ever open education adviser to lead a national effort to expand Open Educational Resources (OER) in K-12 schools. This announcement marks a critical step for ED and the Obama Administration toward leveraging OER as a solution at a time when improving educational access, opportunity and affordability is at the forefront of the nation’s mind.The new open education advisor will work with K-12 schools across the country to transition from traditional textbooks to OER, enabling states and districts to adapt and modify materials to meet student needs, and also free up funding to invest in other innovative ways.

Secretary Duncan announced the position during a bus tour stop at the Williamsfield Unified School District in Illinois, which offers a perfect illustration of how schools can leverage OER to improve teaching and learning. Over the past two years, Williamsfield worked to replace a set of traditional textbooks by adapting and localizing OER, creating a more engaging classroom experience for students and generating savings that the schools reinvested to develop a cutting edge STEM program that would have otherwise been impossible with traditional materials.

While the focus of the position is K-12, the impact of this work will also extend to higher education by enabling schools to better prepare students for college and support momentum for the OER movement as a whole.

This exciting announcement is part of the growing momentum within the Obama Administration to support OER and public access to publicly funded resources. Last month SPARC and 100 other organizations signed a letter calling on the White House to ensure that educational materials created with federal funds are released to the public as OER. SPARC expects to work closely with the new Open Education Advisor and continue advocating with our coalition partners to advance open policy at the Federal level. Join the conversation on social media with @SPARC_NA using hashtags #ReadyforSuccess and #GoOpen.

The video below is about the Williamsfield initiative that accompanied the announcement from USDOE.

Adopting OER Just Got Really, Really Easy

OER_course_tabThere is a new feature in Blackboard Learn that is going to make it extremely easy for VCCS faculty to browse, preview, and adopt open courses to use in their classes. Now, when faculty login to Blackboard Learn, they will see a new tab at the top of their screen called OER Courses (OER stands for open educational resources. For a good definition of OER, see the site). The new tab contains a list of openly licensed courses—courses that use free and open educational materials instead of traditional publisher-created textbooks—that have been developed, reviewed, and shared by VCCS faculty.

All VCCS faculty are welcome–scratch thatencouraged to browse this catalog of open courses to request access to preview any courses they are interested in. Once a faculty member finds a course they like, they can copy it into a Blackboard shell to use. For free. No strings attached.

Simple as pie, right? Well, that’s what we hope at least.

Currently, the following eleven open courses are available on the OER Courses tab:

  • BIO 101 General Biology I
  • BUS 100 Introduction to Business
  • BUS 236 Communication in Management
  • CST 100 Principles of Public Speaking
  • ECO 201 Principles of Macroeconomics
  • ECO 202 Principles of Microeconomics
  • ENG 111 College Composition I
  • ENG 112 College Composition II
  • ENG 243 Survey of English Literature I
  • PSY 200 Principles of Psychology
  • SDV 100 College Success Skills

If you want to take a guided tour of the new tab, feel free to register for a webinar that will walk you through the features of the tab and provide more details about adopting the courses found there. The next session is scheduled for Tuesday, August 25 from 9:00-10:00am via Blackboard Collaborate. You can register by completing the short online form: Once you sing up, you will be emailed the link to join the webinar.

Hopefully, this new tab will make it easier than ever for interested faculty at colleges across the VCCS to adopt open courses, giving them more flexibility with their course materials and saving their students money to boot.

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