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Open Educational Resources

Community College Expecting 5x Payback with OER in First Semester

An $36,000 open educational resources initiative at HACC, a community college in central Pennsylvania, is expected to benefit 2,300 students in the first semester. That's about 13 percent of the total student population. The collective savings will be about $196,000 in textbook costs, more than five times the initial investment. Those savings will be doubled for instructors who use OER for a second semester.

That's the assessment by Tamara Girardi, an associate professor of English, and Andrea Hartranft, an assistant professor of information science, who wrote about the project for the American Association of Community Colleges.

In fall 2019, 22 HACC faculty members developed 13 OER projects, intended for their own courses but also to be shared on OER networks.

The fact that the project was done when faculty were also making the switch to teaching remotely added to the "steep learning curve" instructors faced in taking on their curriculum redevelopment, the two instructors noted. Currently, 18 faculty members are working on OER for their classes, and another 13 have materials that are expected to be ready for summer courses.

Funding has been provided by the HACC Foundation, which is running an OER campaign.

The college has set a strategic goal of providing OER or other free or low-cost textbook options in at least a quarter of its classes by June 30, 2022.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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