The initiative, which involves 38 community colleges in 13 states, is designed to help remove financial roadblocks that can derail students’ progress and spur improvements that will increase the likelihood of college completion.
A full-time community college student spends about $1,300 per year on textbooks -- roughly a third of the cost of an associate degree. Research shows this cost is a significant barrier to college completion. The OER Degree initiative will create a library of digital, open courses available to other institutions and the public.
Using digital and interactive OERs such as open courseware allows our faculty to continue to teach our students in engaging and dynamic ways and encourages students to become more actively involved in their own learning.
The initiative’s requirement to create entire degree programs using OER also will trigger a careful re-examination of course content and sequencing to build up-to-date, cohesive degree programs. By the end of the grant, we expect to roll out an Associate in Arts (A.A.) in General Studies and an Associate in Science (A.S.) in Human Services in an OER format.
Achieving the Dream (ATD), a national nonprofit community college reform network, is managing the new OER Degree initiative on behalf of a consortium of investors that includes the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, the Shelter Hill Foundation and the Speedwell Foundation.
When the initiative is completed, all approved OER courses will be available through a comprehensive, easily accessible online platform to encourage OER adoption even at non-participating institutions.