Thursday, September 15, 2011

Open Educational Resources Project at TCC

It is an interesting time to be working in Washington State Higher Education. The economic downturn is having a major impact on funding and many of us are trying to do more with less. Those of us working in Higher Education aren't the only ones impacted. Students are facing rising tuition, rising fees and rising textbook cost. This rising cost has become a barrier for many that are attempting to reach their educational goals.

Like many institutions that make up the Community and Technical College System in Washington State, Tacoma Community College is working hard to help students reach their goals. We are working on strategies to help students persist through completion and reduce barriers where we can.

One such strategy is our Open Educational Resources (OER) project that we are starting this year. Last Spring our Library and eLearning department decided to collaborate on a project proposal around OER. We were motivated by the following factors:
  • Texbook Affordability - During the 2009-2010 academic year the average textbook cost per full time student was $1,267. This represented 30% of total costs for tuition, basic fees and books.
  • Our students increasing need and expectation of mobility, flexibility and ease of access to course materials.
  • Our instructors desire for alternatives to the one-size-fits-all textbook
This proposal scoped out a two-year project. In the first year we will be convening a group of faculty and students to discuss and explore OER repositories, best practices around OER and a strategy for adopting Open Educational Resources. The second year we will be looking for faculty that are willing to pilot Open Educational Resources in their classes. Our goal is to have 5 classes per quarter adopt Open Educational Resources.

It is a pretty ambitious project but we think this approach and a project manager will help make it successful.