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Open Educational Resources

Virginia Community Colleges Providing Digital Courseware Systemwide at No Cost to Students

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Students at all 23 member colleges of the Virginia Community College System have access to digital courseware at no cost, thanks to an agreement with open educational resources provider Lumen Learning. This is the fifth year in a row that the system has worked with Lumen to provide learning tools, technology and support services across the state's community colleges.

"The use of open educational resources remains a priority for the VCCS to improve college affordability and student success, and our partnership with Lumen supports this priority," said Sheri Prupis, director of teaching and learning technologies for the Virginia Community College System, in a statement. "This agreement provides access to a reliable platform, excellent integration with Canvas, and well-designed learning tools that can improve teaching and learning with OER. By investing at the system level, we can make all this completely free to VCCS students."

In 2018, more than 30,000 students across the system used Lumen-supported OER materials in 30-plus academic subjects, according to a news announcement. Since VCCS first started incorporating the use of OER, two colleges in the system, Tidewater Community College and Northern Virginia Community College, have pioneered zero-textbook-cost degree programs, known as "Z-degrees," that allow students to complete associate degrees using only open educational resources for every course. A growing number of VCCS colleges are also using Lumen's Waymaker digital courseware platform, which uses "frequent practice, personalized feedback and timely nudges to strengthen academic performance," according to the company.

"The early vision and leadership of the VCCS helped forge a path for how to support wide-scale adoption of open educational resources across an entire higher education system," noted Kim Thanos, CEO of Lumen Learning. "As OER have entered the mainstream as an option for general education curriculum, VCCS colleges have been at the forefront proving the value of this investment in terms of student outcomes, faculty engagement with learning materials, and of course recurring textbook cost savings."

"Lumen has been our partner since the very beginning. They have provided expertise in areas that we don't have as an institution, and that support is essential for faculty and students," said Kelly Gillerlain, professor of business at Tidewater Community College. "They help identify OER content and verify open licensing, and they take responsibility for keeping it up-to-date and accessible for everyone. Their platforms are reliable and easy to use, and they turn OER into complete, well-designed courses our students can engage with."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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