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Open Educational Resources

California OER Efforts Get Funding Boost

The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU), Creative Commons (CC) and open education-focused nonprofit SPARC are working to advance the adoption of open educational resources in California and beyond, thanks to funding from the Michelson 20MM Foundation's Open Educational Resources initiative. The organization recently awarded Michelson Spark Grants to three projects that will support the implementation of California's Zero-Textbook-Cost program, provide education on licensing and copyright issues, and protect student privacy.

Administered through the California Community College Chancellor's Office, the Zero-Textbook-Cost program launched in 2016 to help replace conventional textbooks with OER and other no-cost materials for entire degree or certificate programs, giving students a pathway to graduation that saves on traditional textbook costs. Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom allotted $115 million to expand Zero-Textbook-Cost degrees and the use of OER in California's community colleges, as part of his California Comeback Plan investments in college affordability and access.

The Michelson Spark Grants will build on that investment through the following projects:

  • The AACU's Institute on Open Educational Resources will provide a year of mentorship and training to five California community colleges, to help them develop and implement OER plans that will meet the goals of the Zero-Textbook-Cost program.  
  • To help address areas of licensing confusion and build readiness for the rollout of Zero-Textbook-Cost funds, Creative Commons will train 15 California Community College educators, librarians and course designers from across the Bay Area on copyright, open licensing and open practices in a week-long CC bootcamp. Participants will earn CC Certification, becoming advocates and resources for OER on their campuses.
  • SPARC will conduct an analysis of how digital courseware and textbook publishers collect student data and create resources help the higher education community protect students' data privacy.

"Last year's historic investment in open education by the state of California has the potential to transform the course material landscape — saving students money and removing barriers to access," said Michelson 20MM Program Manager Cailyn Nagle, in a statement. "We are proud to support the work of these organizations as they build capacity for the adoption of OER while creating a more equitable future for higher education."

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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