It is encouraging that last year’s OpenVA conference wasn’t a one-off event. It easily could have been. The conferenceÂ was initiated and supportedÂ by the McDonnell administration, now gone, and could easily have ended with a round of pat on the backs and atta boys afterÂ the conference’sÂ closingÂ session, held at the Stafford campus of the University of Mary Washington. But OpenVA has come back for a second year, kept aliveÂ by the passion and dedication of the conference organizers, an enthusiastic group of educators representing Virginia’s public post-secondary institutions.
TCC’s cool-looking student center, Virginia Beach campus
The Â follow-up event isÂ scheduledÂ forÂ Saturday, October 18thÂ at Tidewater Community College’s Virginia Beach campus. The event will be a little different this year, focused less on sharing best practices and more on the development of a framework of policies that support greater adoptionÂ of open resources and promote collaboration among institutions across the state. The summit, called Building OpenVA,Â will gather input from participants during four focused discussion sessions with the purpose of developing recommendations for a statewide open resource strategy.
The summit is for administrators, educators, legislators, librarians, and learning technologists involved with public post-secondary education in Virginia who:
have launched successful open initiatives that they would like to expand or scale,
know, or want to know, how to support an open initiative at their institution,
understand the importance of openness and want to better understand how â€˜openâ€™ is currently being deployed throughout Virginia,
believe in the promise of â€˜open’ but arenâ€™t sure how to start or sustain an open initiative,
want to learn how to form and write policy for open education.
You can find out more about the Building OpenVA Summit, as well as respond to an open call for submissions, atÂ the event website:Â http://openva.org/. And don’t forget that the 2014 Open Ed Conference will take place a few weeks later in Washington, DC, anotherÂ great opportunity for VCCS faculty and staff interestedÂ inÂ learning more aboutÂ OER and global open initiatives.
Check out Tidewater business faculty member Linda Williams, along with Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Daniel DeMarte and Associate Vice President for College Readiness Dr. Kim Bovee talk about open educational resources in a new video created by Lumen Learning.
TCC is the first college in the nation to offer a degree–called a “Z Degree”– that students can earn without incurring any textbook costs.
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.
I have to admit I am a bit giddy to finally and formally announce Tidewater Community College’s Textbook Zero project, an exciting and innovative pilot project aimed at easing the pain of soaring textbook costs for college student byÂ offering a no-textbook-costs associate of science degree in business administration based on the Textbook Zero model developed by Lumen Learning.Â Lumen LearningÂ is aÂ Portland, Oregon-based company that helps educational institutions integrate open educational resources into their curricula.
For students who pursue the new â€œtextbook-freeâ€ degree, the total cost for required textbooks will be zip, zilch, zero. Instead, the program will use high quality open textbooks and other open educational resources, known as OER, which are freely accessible, openly licensed materials useful for teaching, learning, assessment, and research. It is estimated that a TCC student who completes the degree through the textbook-free initiative might save one-third on the cost of college.
TCC will be the first accredited institution in the United States to offer a degree in which students pay nothing for required textbooks.Â TCCâ€™s Textbook Zero project will begin with the 2013-14 academic year.