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Category: Zx23 (Page 1 of 2)

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 […]

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 […]

Dr. Eddie Watson and OER at Virginia Tech, Monday Nov 16th

From OER champion and colleague Anita Walz at Virginia Tech: Please help me in sharing this information widely. Events on Monday, Nov 16th will be of interest to teaching faculty and administrators, curriculum decision-makers, those concerned about student affordability and academic success, and librarians and instructional designers that work with faculty. All events are free and open to the public. Registration […]

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:

New OER Courses Available

OER Courses Blackboard Learn

click to enlarge (+)

Over the past several weeks, we’ve added new courses to the OER Course Catalog in Blackboard Learn, bringing the total number of curated OER titles to 15. The newest open course, and one that has been heavily requested by colleges, is ITE 115: Introduction to Computer Applications and Concepts.

All VCCS faculty have access to the OER Courses tab in Blackboard Learn. You just fill out a short form to request access to any of the available open courses in Blackboard, or you can preview a copy of the course materials (without assessments, quizzes, etc.) on a public site hosted by Lumen Learning. Just click Public Link.

Lumen Learning is offering daily online office hours for all of their clients. All VCCS faculty are welcome to consult with Lumen experts during these times about any open course or OER topic. You can find the Lumen office hours calendar here:

Update: Zx23 Project Featured on WCVE’s Virginia Currents

WCVE logo Public radio fans in the Richmond metro area, listen up: the Zx23 Project will be featured on WCVE’s Virginia Currents radio program this Thursday, September 10 during NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. The radio version will air on WCVE at 8:44 am and 5:44 pm respectively. There will also be a longer online version available on the Virginia Current’s site.

The piece includes interviews with Kerrigan Sullivan, Professor of Theatre and Department Chair for Visual and Performing Arts at John Tyler Community College, and yours truly,  about the Zx23 Program. The online version will also include interviews with Cora and Marcus, two of Kerrigan’s students. I will post the link to the program once it is released.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the longer, online version of the piece:


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