State Innovator in Higher Ed Open Educational Resources Joins Achieving the Dream

New Director Brings Virginia OER Expertise to ATD



Silver Spring, MD (March 16, 2016) – Dr. Karen A. Stout, President & CEO of Achieving the Dream, today announced Dr. Richard Sebastian, a state leader in instructional technology, will join Achieving the Dream (ATD) as Director, Open Educational Resources Degree Initiative. 

“Richard has been nothing short of a pioneer in leading the Virginia community college system to adopt and scale courses and degree programs using open educational resources,” said Dr. Stout. “His expertise means we can hit the ground running with our own effort to increase access and success, especially for underserved students, using open educational resources.”

Achieving the Dream’s Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative, announced February 25 at ATD’s annual DREAM conference in Atlanta, is a new effort to involve faculty in redesigning courses and degree programs using open educational resources with the goal of increasing college degree completion rates and access. The Initiative will enable between 20 and 30 community colleges, including both individual colleges and college systems in the US and Canada, to create new OER Degree programs.

“I am extremely excited to be joining Achieving the Dream to lead this effort to scale OER degrees,” says Dr. Sebastian, “In Virginia, I witnessed the potential this OER work has to not just reduce costs for students but also fundamentally transform teaching and learning. Imagine the impact when these efforts are expanded to institutions across North America as well as aligned to ATD’s successful strategic reform work.”

Dr. Sebastian joins ATD after serving as Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies in the Virginia Community College System. In that position, he was responsible for providing vision, leadership, and support for effective use of teaching and learning technologies at the system level and at the 23 colleges in the state.

He also served as the Principal Investigator of the Zx23 project, funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.  The grant is helping to spread the innovative Z-Degree model, created by Tidewater Community College, to all community colleges in the state.  The Z-Degree as well as the Zx23 project are providing the models for ATD's national OER Degree Initiative.

Dr. Sebastian was a founding member of the Open Virginia Advisory Committee (OVAC), a committee created by the former Virginia Secretary of Education to investigate ways to reduce textbook costs for Virginia’s students. He founded several other task forces and committees with missions related to strengthening digital teaching and learning and reducing college costs through greater use of OER materials. Richard has been an adjunct and on-line community college instructor experienced in distance education, adult education, and admissions counseling. Richard is a frequent presenter on open educational resources and OER degrees and an enthusiastic blogger about OER and other educational topics. 

Media contact:

Lynn Reddy, Achieving the Dream
(240) 450-3830

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.

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