Atlanta, GA (February 24, 2016) – Achieving the Dream (ATD) today invited community colleges across the United States and Canada to submit applications for the Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative, a new effort to increase college degree completion rates and access by involving faculty in redesigning courses and degree programs using open educational resources.
The Initiative, announced at ATD’s annual DREAM conference in Atlanta, will enable between 20 and 30 community colleges, including both individual colleges and college systems, to create new OER Degree programs. Participating institutions will be expected to meet specific criteria, including a commitment to share data and materials, active support of high-level administrators and faculty champions, willingness to seek matching funds, and attention to underserved students.
“Open educational resources are valuable for colleges and their students in terms of invigorating teaching and learning, lowering costs, and laying the groundwork for degree programs that meet up-to-the minute student and employer needs,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Community colleges are just beginning to use OER, so this Initiative will help build out a new dimension of the student success agenda.”
The results of a recent survey by the Independent College Bookstore Association found that only 11 percent of faculty who responded to a survey said they were currently using open educational resources.
In the short term, the Initiative intends to reduce costs for students and accelerate their progress through college, but ultimately it will create systems that connect curriculum and pedagogy to updated student learning outcomes.
The goals of the OER Degree Initiative are that students will complete their degrees at higher rates and at 25 percent less cost than those completing traditional degrees, and that faculty will redesign curriculum and pedagogy to better match student and employer needs. More specifically, the OER Degree Initiative will require participating colleges to offer OER courses by January 2017, and full OER degrees by the end of 2017.
At the completion of the Initiative, all approved OER courses will be available through a comprehensive, easily accessible online platform. Colleges also will be expected to have the infrastructure and know-how to sustain and expand the OER Degrees offered.
Achieving the Dream will serve as Initiative intermediary, managing grants to all the institutions, overseeing implementation, and ensuring programmatic fidelity. ATD will monitor college progress, provide guidance on change management and institutional transformation, and assure effective integration of OER Degree partner support and guidance.
The Initiative includes SRI International as the research and evaluation partner, Lumen Learning as the technical assistance provider, and the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) as leader of the OER community of practice.
Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.