Massachusetts Community Colleges Go Open Statewide Initiative

Summary of project:

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that are copyright-free or have been released under a copyright license that permits others to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute them. Examples ofOER include: full courses, course modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab and classroom activities, pedagogical materials, games, simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from all over the world. OER offers many benefits for faculty and students. The most obvious benefit is that there is no cost to students to use these materials. Students have access to all course materials on the first day of class and retain access once the course ends. Faculty are able to choose materials specific to their courses and tailor material to their particular students. While cost is a significant fact to consider, the quality of materials and student/faculty satisfaction with materials is also an important component of using OER.

Many colleges in MA have small, grass roots efforts towards the use of OER on their campuses. NECC is a great example. With an investment of $23,000 in faculty stipends, students will have saved more than $450,000.00 in textbooks costs from summer 2014 through spring 2016. Other colleges around MA have similar projects or are looking to start these projects. A recent meeting through Adobe Collaborate on January 8, 2016 had 21 MCC staff, faculty and administrators from across the state present to discuss plans to work together to grow these efforts through collaboration.

Adoption and development of OER involves significant time on the part of faculty and of staff who support their efforts (often, instructional design teams and librarians). Sometimes, a full course or textbook can be found and is easily integrated into current courses. Other times, faculty and staff must search through many repositories and resources to find appropriate, quality materials- and in many cases, to develop or redevelop materials that cannot be found. Once curated, materials must be organized in such a way that they can be shared with students. Most projects fall somewhere in between.

The time and effort to “go open” is significantly reduced with experience and support. By collaborating with faculty and staff from across the state, we can pool resources and experiences. This will allow more faculty to get involved and many more students to benefit from the use of OER by reducing costs and improving the quality of their education.

Project plan:

  • Develop a statewide Massachusetts Community College Open Education Council (MCCOEC), with representatives from each of the 15 Massachusetts Community Colleges and one member from the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office. This council will support the remaining goals/deliverables. Spring, 2016 (MCCOEC)
  • Adopt/create a statewide repository of OER materials to be easily accessed and shared by all MCC faculty. Spring/Summer 2016 (MCCOEC)
  • Offer a statewide Massachusetts: Go Open training day for MCC faculty, staff and administrators. Multiple tracks will be offered to meet the varied needs of attendees. June, 2016 (MCCOEC, led by Sue Tashjian and Jody Carson)
  • Create a competitive, statewide RFP titled “Massachusetts Community Colleges Go Open for faculty who would like to change from traditional textbooks to free, openly licensed materials for their courses. Proposals will be prioritized based on direct savings to students, multi-campus collaborations and department-wide adoptions. Proposals will need to be within the limits of the TAACCT 4 grant. (July, 2016) (MCCOEC, led by Sue Tashjian and Jody Carson)
  • Offer trainings and technical assistance in summer and fall 2016 to support OER initiatives across the state. Summer and Fall, 2016 (Sue Tashjian and Jody Carson)
  • Adopt, adapt and develop OER materials for use in courses across the state, based on the accepted RFPs. September, 2016 to June, 2017 (Faculty are responsible, with support from an OER coordinator at their college and Sue Tashjian/Jody Carson).
  • Present the work of the “Massachusetts Community Colleges Go Open” projects at a second annual “Go Open” day in late June/early July 2017. Faculty and staff will showcase the newly developed open materials/courses

In order to ensure this project remains an important focus over the next 20 months and that each college receives the support it needs to be successful, Sue Tashjian and Jody Carson will act as a statewide co-coordinators for this project working with local OER coordinators at each college. They will act as the local coordinators for NECC, as they have for the last few years, and will receive a stipend from the grant to coordinate the statewide effort.

Project outcomes:

The short-term goal of the Massachusetts Go Open project is to significantly decrease student costs by offering low cost or no cost options for course materials and to remove some financial barriers for our community college students.

In addition, this project will increase collaboration among the 15 community colleges to improve teaching and learning materials available for all students and faculty and to decrease the time involved for individual faculty and staff to find/develop these materials.

Based on current data for local and statewide adoptions across the US, we expect to save $1,000,000 or more in the first academic year (2017-2018) with savings continuing to grow each year.

Once this grant ends, our long-term goal is to develop a small ($10) per OER course material fee for students. These funds will be split between the college and the Council to support the additional development of OER courses and continued work of the council. Should the roles still be needed, these funds could also continue to support the roles of the coordinator(s) both local and statewide.

The GPSTEM project is funded by a $20,000,000 grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, Grant # TC-26450-14-60-A-25. This product was created by the grantee and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor.