Open Educational Resources

New Virginia Law Mandates Creation of OER Guidelines

A new Virginia law mandates creation of guidelines for open educational resources at colleges and universities. HB 454 requires the governing boards of public institutions to implement guidelines for the adoption and use of low-cost and no-cost OER in their courses offered at such institution. However, while the policies and procedures are required, no instructor would be forced to use OER. The guidelines can also address the use of "low-cost commercially published materials."

The addition was tacked onto other regulations related to textbook selection and availability of course materials on campus for students who can't afford the cost.

OER isn't new for the state's schools. In 2015, Virginia's community colleges piloted a program to replace textbooks with OER in specific programs. And Tidewater Community College has launched multiple degree programs with "zero textbook costs."

The bill's approval follows on the heels of a $5 million federal competitive grant pilot program, announced in late March, to support projects at colleges and universities across the country to "create new open textbooks or expand their use in order to achieve savings for students while maintaining or improving instruction and student learning outcomes."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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