While students are facing tuition increases to offset dwindling state support for higher education, they’re still dealing with other costs of going to college, like books.
To help with those textbook costs, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges on October 31, 2011 launched the Open Course Library, a collection of educational materials for 42 of the state’s highest-enrolled college courses,. The materials, which include textbooks, syllabi, activities, readings and assessments cost $30 or less per student and are available online at no cost under an open license for all Washington colleges and universities as well as anyone worldwide.
“The idea of using the OCL is really twofold,” Director of eLearning Ann Garnsey-Harter said. “Students can afford to purchase the textbooks and other class materials required for all courses and faculty will find high quality course materials readily available.”
Philosophy Prof. Paul Herrick is one of three Shoreline instructors who developed courses and accompanying materials for the OCL. He says that the wealth of available resources provided by the OCL classes is something instructors might want to consider.
Teachers all know the amount of time it takes to research and build a resource library for our classes.
“We spent a year building it,” Herrick said about the course and supporting materials. “Finding the time to build something this comprehensive…that was the hard part. But our OCL logic course offers a wealth of digital resources in modular form and covering every branch of logic. In addition, each part can be adapted to fit the needs of specific instructors.”
Herrick worked with Mark Storey, his counterpart at Bellevue College, to develop an Introduction to Logic course. The collaboration resulted in 118 videos, 25 PowerPoint presentations, 50 lectures, 60-70 exams and quizzes, and another 60-70 practice quizzes added to the online library.
Oxford University Press, who published Herrick’s 750-page textbook in hardback form, agreed to reprint a new edition in both a paperback form and in an e-text version. Herrick declined all royalties on the e-text edition of his book.
“It took three months for them to decide,” Herrick said, adding that his was the first e-text ever produced by the publisher. Herrick thinks Oxford officials were persuaded by the OCL connection.
Herrick’s students had the opportunity to try out the e-text version during Fall Quarter 2011. In the class of 20, 18 students said they preferred the $29.99 online version to the book, which cost $100 in the original hard back form and $59.95 for the soft back version.
Shoreline instructors Linda Khandro and Federico Marchetti also developed courses and materials for the OCL. Khandro developed an Introduction to Oceanography course and Marchetti built an Introduction to Statistics course.
The project could save students nearly $43 million a year if adopted at all state community and technical colleges, according to an informal study by the Student Public Interest Research Group released and released by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges,.
The OCL, funded with state money and a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant, is available to anyone at any time at no charge. Because all materials are digital and open-source, books and other course materials can be adapted to be used for any class. SBCTC contributed $750,000 for the project and the Gates Foundation matched it.
“It really is a revolutionary idea,” Ann Garnsey-Harter said. “You have to be open to looking at and sharing educational resources from a different perspective…it really is a win-win situation for everybody, students and faculty.”
Herrick says that he and Storey will both use their OCL program for Winter Quarter 2012 as will an instructor at Spokane Falls Community College. “I know that a couple other colleges plan to use it, too,” Herrick said.
The "Open" aspect of the OCL appeals to me," said Khandro, "as open courses can increase access to basic science literacy locally and around the world."
Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs John Backes and Director of eLearning Ann Garnsey-Harter joined Phase 1 instructors Paul Herrick and Linda Khandro and Phase 2 instructor Shana Calaway (and Khandro) at a luncheon at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue on January 24, 2012. Instructional Designer Kathleen Chambers joined the Shoreline team. The luncheon was to recognize and celebrate the work of the faculty, instructional designers and librarians who made Phase 1 a success and to welcome the Phase 2 paraticipants. Calaway will develop Business Calculus 148 and Khandro, Intro to Astronomy (101).
Following the lunch, Phase 1 participants spent the afternoon sharing their insights and experiences of course development with the Phase 2 instructors.