Congratulations to the VCCS colleges selected to participate in the Zx23 Project. Each college will receive grant funds to support faculty and staff in building a Z-Degree at their respective institutions. You can click on the college abbreviation in the first column to see additional application details.
See the Zx23 Project page for news and updates on grantees and other aspects of this groundbreaking project.
There is still a chance for a few additional colleges to participate in the Zx23 Project. Contact Richard Sebastian at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Last week on this blog I announced the official release of the Zx23 Project Request for Applications. Today, I’d like to announce the selection of Cheryl Huff as the new, full-time Program Manager for the Zx23 Project. Cheryl (BA, MA-LA, M.Litt) has been teaching, chairing, training faculty, and coordinating projects at Germanna Community College for the past nine years. Her background is in ancient Greek philosophy and the works of Shakespeare. Through Germanna’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Cheryl implemented institutional change in distance learning at the college as well as across the VCCS. She specializes in designing quality online courses and course materials, including open educational resources. In 2012, Cheryl received a Chancellor’s OER Adoption Grant to develop OER for her English course and has since become an OER leader at Germanna and the VCCS. Cheryl brings this wealth of experience to the Lumen Learning team. In her new role she will focus exclusively on the Zx23 Project.
Cheryl says, “There is no evidence that Gandhi actually said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ but that doesn’t make it any less of a good idea. I believe we can change the world of education through OER development for the VCCS, working with Lumen.”
As the Principal Investigator for the Zx23 Project, I am extremely pleased to hear about Lumen’s selection of Cheryl as Program Manager and I look forward to supporting her and the other Zx23 Project colleges over the next year. Congratulations, Cheryl!
VCCS colleges interested in being part of the…drumroll please…ground-breaking…innovative…envelope-pushing Zx23 Project can now download the official Zx23 Project Request for Applications.
The Z x 23 Project is a one-year grant to support the VCCS’s long-term goal of scaling Z-Degrees to all 23 VCCS colleges. The $200,000 grant from The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, combined with matching funds from Chancellor DuBois and the System Office, will be used to fund, support, and train faculty and staff at up to fifteen Virginia community colleges interested in building Z-Degrees. Each Zx23 Project college is eligible for a grant of up to $15,000 to develop the first twelve courses of a Z-Degree. Lumen Learning, Inc. will work closely with faculty and staff at participating colleges to help build these pathways, host the courses in Blackboard Learn, and evaluate the outcomes of the pilots. The grant period ends June 24, 2016.
“P.S., citizens: ye should license openly all of mans’ intellectual endeavors to avoid some serious problems down the road.”
OpenVA is putting on its breeches and tri-cornered hat, hopping on its pony, and heading to Williamsburg, VA. OpenVA is evolving from a centrally-organized, annual summit to more of an umbrella term for a collection of institution or group-sponsored gatherings focused on all forms of openness. This is a good thing, I think, and was the goal anyway, shared at the close of OpenVA 2.0 last October at Tidewater Community College with the idea of the college “drive-by.”
The W&M event is really an ideal format for the next iteration of OpenVA. Jamison Miller, previous OpenVA participant and graduate student in W&M’s Higher Education Program, organized OpenVA 2.1 to address particular needs at his institution, but has designed the event with input from the the broader open community in Virginia. Here is the announcement Jamison posted to the OpenVA mailing list:
We are excited to announce “OpenVA 2.1”, a 3-hour workshop on Open Educational Resources (OER) that will be hosted at the College of William and Mary on Saturday, May 2nd. Although OER are gaining exposure and adoption across the globe, awareness remains one of the chief obstacles to implementation. This event, then, is about fostering a rich and varied awareness of the many faces of OER. We are organizing two focused panels to critically discuss:
the current OER landscape and what constitutes OER and,
first-hand accounts of OER implementation from a variety of disciplines and contexts.
These panel sessions will be broken up by an expectedly spirited keynote address from Gardner Campbell, Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success at Virginia Commonwealth University. Space in the agenda will be reserved for audience input, as we hope to encourage an engaged dialogue relevant to attendees. And lunch is on us!
It is good to see the DIY, guerilla spirit of the first OpenVA conference continue. The first conference was created 2 1/2 years ago out of spit and polish, rolls of duct tape, Werner Herzog-recommended bolt-cutters, pure, unrefined human ingenuity, and a small roll of bills that constituted a budget. We referred to it as an “inaugural” event at the time, but that was purely aspirational. Here we are today, with another exciting event at one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious colleges. Who’d a thunk? Details below. It’s free, but you have to register.
Saturday, May 2nd, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (doors open at 10 for coffee) Media Center, Ground floor, Swem Library The College of William and Mary 400 Landrum Drive, Williamsburg, VA 23185
One of my favorite Onion articles is an expletive-laced “op-ed” by fictitious Gillette CEO and President James M. Kilts responding to his company’s lack of innovation in the “multi-blade” razor game. Softening up the language a bit so the VCCS will continue to allow me to blog, the modified headline reads: “Screw It. We’re Doing Five Blades.” I’m not going to link to it for obvious reasons, but you get the drift. Google the Onion + five blades if you want to read the whole, hilarious, testosterone-soaked article. Again: lots of cuss words.
Well, Virginia’s Community Colleges are “doing five blades,” too. Not in the multi-blade razor/moisturizing aloe strip space, of course. No, instead–building on the pioneering work of Tidewater Community College–the VCCS is taking OER to the next, audacious, metaphorical five-blade level by scaling the zero-textbook-cost degree–or Z Degree–to all 23 VCCS colleges.
The initiative, called the Z x 23 Project, is made possible by a generous grant from The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, an organization with a deep interest in understanding how to successfully scale OER. The one-year grant will allow the VCCS to kickstart the process of building out the Z Degree by providing funding, support, and training to fifteen (15) VCCS colleges to begin building pathways to their own Z Degrees. An initial cohort of 6 colleges will begin work right away and work through the summer. A second cohort of 9 colleges will get underway in early fall 2015. Each participating Z x 23 college will pilot the open courses they adopt for this project. Lumen Learning, the VCCS’s partner in this endeavor, will work closely with participating institutions to build these pathways, host the courses in Blackboard Learn, and evaluate the outcomes of the pilots. Along the way, we also want to document how OER successfully scales and becomes mainstream, and answer the question, “How do we make Z degrees portable?”
Virginia’s community colleges are known internationally for their innovative OER work and significant accomplishments in developing and using open materials. TCC’s groundbreaking Z Degree, the first all-OER degree in the world, is partially responsible for putting Virginia on the OER map. However, much of this attention also comes from Virginia’s uncommon central structure, which enables the system to translate a commitment to scale OER into action. Sixteen VCCS colleges have developed and deployed OER courses. Over 70 open courses have been developed using Chancellor’s Innovation Funds (CIF), Chancellor’s OER Adoption Grants, Professional Development Grants, or local college funds. Collectively, the efforts of Virginia’s Community Colleges have saved students millions of dollars in textbook costs. And with the addition of 2 new Z Degrees from NVCC, the VCCS now has 3 all-OER associate degrees. All of this has taken place in less than 3 years.
This is a growing, global movement, and the next three years are going to bring even more dramatic results. This grant from the Hewlett Foundation is going to allow the VCCS to continue to lead the way forward.
Details about how your college can become a Z x 23 college will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. In the meantime, feel free to post a comment on here or contact me directly to express your interest or get additional information.
Spring 2015 is positively lousy with EdTech-related events, meetings, webinars, and more events. And webinars. There are also meetings: lots of ‘em. Below are the ones I have compiled, at least through April, the cruelest month. For a complete list, go to http://edtech.vccs.edu/upcoming-events/.
If you have an event that you would like to add, please let me know.
The Textbook Costs and Digital Learning Resources (TCDLR) Committee released this final report a few weeks ago at the last meeting of the Reengineering Task Force. I co-chaired the committee with the wonderful Dr. Mark Estepp, President of Southwest Virginia Community College. The committee was charged with the following tasks:
examine VCCS administrative practices and policies that unnecessarily add to the cost of academic textbooks,
explore how networked digital technology can best be leveraged to lower the overall cost of textbooks, including using open educational resources,
investigate ways which currently licensed electronic resources can be used in electronic “course packs,” as a substitute for textbooks, or for the supplementary material often required for a course of study,
identify opportunities for interested VCCS faculty to explore using openly licensed resources in their courses,
examine the current relevance of printed textbooks in an age of interactive, web-based content, digital publishing, and
recommend strategies and policies for creating an institutional culture that embraces and practices openness, transparency, collaboration, and sharing.
The report contains a number of recommendations for lowering the cost of course materials across the VCCS. I am really proud of what this group accomplished, much of it before the release of this report, including the 17 college VCCS Collaborative Bookstore contract with Follett to textbook reduction metrics in the annual evaluations of VCCS presidents. In fact, in many ways the final report is a bit anti-climactic.
Still, you should red it. You can read or download a copy of the report below:
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.