ACC receives grant to develop open educational resources

Austin Community College is part of a consortium of colleges that have been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Achieving the Dream organization to develop degree programs that can be completed using open educational resources (OER) instead of proprietary textbooks.

The college is one of eight institutions in Texas and 38 nationwide selected to participate in the Achieving the Dream Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative. The goal is to save students money and improve success rates by promoting the use of open, online course materials that are free or available at minimal cost to students.

“We know that students sometimes don’t buy textbooks because of the cost, which then impacts their performance in a class,” says ACC Executive Vice President/Provost Dr. Charles Cook. “Research tells us that providing free and low-cost books and materials can have a significant impact on achievement and persistence rates.”

ACC will lead a consortium of Texas colleges that create materials to share. Consortium partners are Alamo Colleges, El Paso Community College, and San Jacinto College.

Each college will develop materials for courses for the associate of arts and associate of science degrees in general studies. ACC will develop resources for two government courses, two physics courses, one math course (MATH 1332), three biology courses, and a student success course (EDUC 1300).

ACC will schedule its first grant-funded OER course in spring 2017. By spring 2019 students will be able to earn a general studies A.S. or A.A. degree by taking courses using only open educational resources. ACC estimates students could save up to $4,000 by the time they graduate.

By spring 2019 students will be able to earn the general studies A.S. or A.A. degree by taking courses using only open educational resources.

Cook says beyond the cost benefit to students, the OER initiative gives faculty a chance to create curriculum and materials that are up-to-date and directly aligned with learning outcomes. ACC-developed resources can be original, adapted, or adopted from existing open materials. Once created, they will have a Creative Commons copyright license that preserves attribution of ownership for the author, but allows reuse and revision by others. Approved courses created through the Achieving the Dream initiative will be accessible through an online platform.

ACC also is a research partner in the OER initiative and will collect and report data to Achieving the Dream for assessing the impact of open resources on student achievement and progress to degrees.

As part of the grant, ACC will receive $100,000 worth of technical assistance in creating the OER courses from Lumen Learning. Faculty are invited to learn more about OER courses and materials at a presentation by Lumen Learning Co-founder and Chief Academic Officer Dr. David Wiley on Friday, September 30, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Eastview Campus.

Faculty course developers and reviewers – apply by July 29

Full-time or adjunct faculty can apply now to serve as course developers or reviewers on grant-funded OER. Those selected to work on the project will be provided release time or a stipend in addition to professional development. For details and instructions view the Faculty Application for Participation in the ATD Open Educational Resources (OER) Grant. The deadline to apply is July 29.

Find updates and information about the OER project on the Open Educational Resources webpage on the Office of the Provost website, or learn about developing open resources on Institutional Resources & Technology Department’s OER webpage.

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