Virginia’s Community Colleges Work to Slash Textbook Costs
|RICHMOND — Virginia’s Community Colleges are taking aim at textbook costs.
Full-time students, on average, spend nearly $1,000 a year on textbooks and other learning resources, according to the College Board. That is increasingly seen as a barrier to both student enrollment and student success. New grants made by the VCCS are tapping community college faculty expertise and creativity to reduce those costs by adopting “Open Educational Resources.”
The initiative is one of many embraced by the Chancellor’s Reengineering Task Force as a way to reduce barriers to student success.
“One significant obstacle hindering the success of our students is the rising cost of textbooks,” said Chancellor Glenn Dubois. “To fully succeed, our students need access to inexpensive, high quality course materials on the very first day of class.”
A dozen grants – each worth $3,000 – are being awarded to faculty members teaching in community colleges across Virginia to boost the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) – teaching and learning materials freely available online for everyone to use – in high enrollment courses including English, psychology, biology, business, chemistry, history, mathematics and information technology (see list below). Those projects aim to increase the awareness of OERs as well as create classes for which OERs will be the only required material.
The grant program is one of several strategies aiming to slash the cost of textbooks for Virginia Community College students. Others include:
• Tidewater Community College’s OpenTCC project, where business faculty are developing the first ever associate’s degree in business administration with no textbook costs (http://www.tcc.edu/news/press/2013/TextbookFreeDegree.htm).
• A team of math faculty and instructional designers developed a web site to help students prepare for several units in developmental math (http://vccsblogs.com/math).
• Faculty members at New River Community College have created free, web-based resources for English 111 & 112 courses.
• Northern Virginia Community College’s Extended Learning Institute (ELI) is creating a series of general education course options that will become part of an OER-based general education certificate program. The courses will be open to NVCC students as well as distance learning students from other Virginia Community Colleges; the open materials will be available system-wide as well as licensed through the Creative Commons.
“Open Educational Resources have the potential to significantly drive down the cost of a community college degree,” says Dr. Richard Sebastian, director of director of teaching and learning technologies for Virginia’s Community Colleges. “We look forward to expanding this pilot grant program to move open resources even further into the fabric of community college academic life.”
The 12 new grant recipients to boost the use of OERs include:
• Central Virginia Community College – Juville Dario-Becker – Biology 101
• Paul D. Camp Community College – Safianu Rabiu – Biology 102
• Southwest Virginia Community College – Loretta Beavers – Business 100
• Thomas Nelson Community College – Riham Mahfouz – Chemistry 111
• Southside Virginia Community College – Leslie Cline – Public Speaking (CST) 100
• Blue Ridge Community College – James Eriksen – English 111
• Germanna Community College – Cheryl Huff – English 112
• Rappahannock Community College – Matt Brent – History 101
• Northern Virginia Community College – Shelley Slaey – Information Technology Essentials 115
• Wytheville Community College – Jason Lachniet – Math 163
• Tidewater Community College – Glenn E. “Bert” Fox – Psychology 201
• New River Community College – Peggy Dunn – Student Development 100
About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 405,000 students a year. For more information, please visit myfuture.vccs.edu.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Public Relations