Open educational resources are attractive for both students and faculty because, in large part, they are free or very inexpensive. However, finding and sorting through all the available OER for high-quality materials is a daunting proposition for most faculty members, making recent collaborative efforts between institutions a solution with considerable potential.
“Helping faculty find appropriate resources is a major issue,” said Geoff Cain, director of distance education for the College of the Redwoods, Eureka, CA, in a recent article in Campus Technology. Cain is a member of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources, a joint effort to help faculty identify and evaluate appropriate resources.
Another effort, Project Kaleidoscope, brought together faculty teams from eight institutions across the U.S. to design 10 general education courses that use OER materials and share common learning assessments.
The Kaleidoscope courses were used for the first time in the fall of 2011 with promising results. According to a report in Campus Technology, there was a 3.5% improvement in student success (completion with a C or better) in the courses, while students participating in the Kaleidoscope classes saw a 97% reduction in textbook costs.
“It’s so frustrating to community college teachers when their students show up the first week without textbooks because they are waiting for a paycheck or for financial aid,” said M.L. Bettino, former dean of academic affairs at Cerritos College and primary investigator for the Kaleidoscope program. “Now they can get their hands on these materials early and really be prepared on day one.”