College of the Canyons has been recognized for its continued leadership in promoting the use of Open Educational Resources in the classroom as a means to help reduce student costs and increase access to higher education.
Open Educational Resources (OER) are free, electronic educational content materials, which are increasingly being used in the classroom as an alternative to traditional textbooks and course manuals.
OERs are licensed in a way that allows them to be legally and freely shared, reproduced and modified. For example, when a publisher releases a textbook in an OER format that content can be legally, and freely, used by others.
As such, OERs offer community college students a no-cost alternative to costly commercial textbooks while helping to make the price of college more affordable to all.
College officials estimate that COC students save approximately $750,000 each year by using openly licensed materials rather than commercial textbooks.
“By engaging in the global OER movement College of the Canyons has been able to fulfill one of our missions as a community college, which is to help make education more accessible,” said James Glapa-Grossklag, dean of educational technology, learning resources and distance learning at the college.
College of the Canyons has an established history of adopting such learning tools with faculty members in the college’s biology, history, sociology, geology, mathematics and water technology departments all currently using OERs.
That trend should only continue with Glapa-Grossklag having recently been elected president of the Open Education Consortium, a worldwide community of higher education institutions and associated organizations committed to advancing open education and its impact on global education.
As the global advocate for the use of OERs, the consortium now includes more than 250 institutional members around the globe. However, COC has been involved with the Consortium since its humble beginnings more than eight years ago.
In 2013, Glapa-Grossklag was also elected to the consortium’s board of directors, becoming the its first community college representative.
In his new role as president, Glapa-Grossklag will provide oversight of the organization’s management, finances and programs, as carried out by a professional staff located around the world. He will also work to develop and maintain partnerships with non-governmental organizations and professional associations interested in the use of OERs.
Glapa-Grossklag is not alone in advancing these efforts.
At the recent Open Education Global Conference held April 22 to 24 in Banff, Canada, COC sociology professor Anne Marenco was honored with the organization’s Educator Award for Excellence, recognizing her work to encourage fellow educators to share their materials more openly.
“Anne has worked tirelessly to expand, adapt and even author openly licensed textbooks that are used by the hundreds of students she has in her classroom each year,” said Glapa-Grossklag. “She has also inspired dozens of her colleagues to do the same, thereby expanding that benefits to literally thousands of students.”
It’s estimated that the use of openly licensed sociology textbooks alone saves College of the Canyons students approximately $180,000 per year.
In fact, a recent national survey released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that 50 percent of students reported taking fewer college courses or different courses due to textbook costs.
In addition, 65 percent chose to not buy the textbook at all, while 94 percent expressed concern that their grades would suffer because they could not afford the textbook.
“Stories and statistics like these have pushed the college to expand its use of OERs,” said Glapa-Grossklag, “so that eventually COC students will be able to complete an associate degree program using only openly licensed materials.”