Today, Achieving the Dream launches a major OER degree initiative to support student learning and degree completion through the use of openly licensed learning materials. I’m very excited to announce that CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College, Bronx Community College, and Hostos Community College are among the 38 participating community colleges thanks to the vision and leadership of Marsha Clark and Ann Fiddler in the Office of Library Services, along with colleagues throughout CUNY Libraries. The full press release from Achieving the Dream is reprinted below.
Achieving the Dream Launches Major National Initiative to Help 38 Community Colleges in 13 States Develop New Degree Programs Using Open Educational Resources
OER Degree Initiative will accelerate use of openly licensed learning materials in higher education and cut costs to students while improving degree and certificate completion
SAN FRANCISCO—June 14, 2016—The national community college reform network Achieving the Dream (ATD) today announced the largest initiative of its kind to develop degree programs using high quality open educational resources (OER). The initiative—which involves 38 community colleges in 13 states (see attached list of participating colleges)—is designed to help remove financial roadblocks that can derail students’ progress and to spur other changes in teaching and learning and course design that will increase the likelihood of degree and certificate completion.
The annual costs of textbooks are about $1,300 per year for a full-time community college student and amount to about a third of the cost of an Associate’s degree. This cost, research shows, is a significant barrier to college completion. Students who don’t complete college are over 50 percent more likely than those who graduated to cite textbook costs as a major financial barrier, according to a study by the research firm Public Agenda.
Equally important, using digital and interactive open educational resources such as open courseware will encourage faculty to teach students in more engaging and dynamic ways and invite 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. These degrees will be available to a minimum of 76,000 students over a three-year period.
The effort is intended to spark more rapid adoption of OER within higher education, beginning with community colleges. Today, there are enough open educational materials to replace textbooks in required courses in four two-year programs: business administration, general education, natural or general science, and social science. But only a few colleges are using those resources. There is also a significant body of OER in computer science.
The OER Degree Initiative will create a library of high-quality, digital, open courses available to other institutions and the public at large. Making resources easily available to all is expected to encourage OER adoption even at non-participating institutions.
A Culture Change
“This initiative will help further transform teaching and learning in the nation’s community colleges,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “ Extensive use of OER will enable students to have access to more dynamic learning tools and a richer academic experience at a cost that will help more students complete their studies.”
Achieving the Dream recently unveiled a new approach to improving student success and completion that helps colleges develop institutional capacities essential to implementing sweeping initiatives like OER degrees. Leading the OER Degree initiative will allow ATD and the participating colleges to expand their understanding of impactful teaching and learning across entire degree programs.