Odessa College to use open educational resources in degree programs to reduce costs, reinvigorate teaching, and raise college completion rates
ODESSA (June 15, 2016) – Odessa College is one of only 38 community colleges in the United States to receive a grant from Achieving the Dream, a national community college reform network, as part of an initiative to create new degree programs using high quality Open Educational Resources (OER) in new degree programs. The initiative is designed to help remove financial roadblocks and spur improvements that will increase the likelihood of degree and certificate completion.
After participating in the national teleconference, which officially announced the grant recipients, Odessa College Vice President for Student Services and Enrollment Management Kim McKay said, “We are certainly honored to be one of the 38 colleges selected for this initiative.”
McKay added that OC President Gregory D. Williams and several other Odessa College representatives were at the OER Achieving the Dream Kickoff in San Francisco this week, along with officials from other colleges who received the grants, to learn about the resources, data collection and how they would move forward.
The $9.8 million in funding for the initiative comes from a consortium of investors that includes the Williams and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp., the Shelter Hill Foundation and the Speedwell Foundation. Achieving the Dream will manage the new OER Degree initiative on behalf of the consortium.
OC Dean of Arts and Sciences Eric Yeager said that Odessa College would receive a $100,000 grant over three years. He added that Odessa College is ahead in the process, with some instructors already developing and using open educational resources in their classes. The grant will help instructors further develop open education resources. As a result, students will have access to affordable learning resources which will transform the learning process and make it more engaging and relevant for the students.
In a national media release this week, Achieving the Dream reported that 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.
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.
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