College of the Canyons: Interviews with Community College OER Leaders Series

October 1, 2012

College of the Canyons Logo

James Glapa-Grossklag is the Dean of Educational Technology, Learning Resources, and Distance Learning at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California.  He is also the President of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources Advisory board.

1. What open educational project(s) is your institution involved in?  What was the motivation for starting these projects?

OER Repository

College of the Canyons (COC) maintains an OER repository to make it as easy as possible for faculty and students to share open learning objects.  The OER repository was launched in July 209 utilizing the digital repository solution Equella, which allows the collection, categorization, and sharing of all matter of instructional content. Our faculty can access open content through a Blackboard building block that allows importing content from the repository into their courses. Our college can also share content with other institutions—as well as discover their content—with Equella’s federated search function.

  • Our OER repository grew by 57 learning objects during 2011-12, up to a current total of 392 objects.
  • There are nearly 50 learning objects in production that will be added this fall.
  • We estimate that 300-400 students per semester use Equella as a primary delivery vehicle for their academic materials, providing access only a few mouse-clicks away.
  • All content carries a Creative Commons license.

Open Textbooks

COC develops and uses open textbooks to save students money and increase access to education

  • Three Sociology courses using open textbooks, including 2 authored by our faculty:
    • 20 sections  x 35 students x $100 per textbook = $70,000 savings
  • Two Water Technology courses using open textbooks, both authored by our faculty:
    • 4 sections x 35 students x $100 per textbook = $14,000 savings
  • One Math course using open courseware from Carnegie Mellon University:
    • 26 sections x 35 students x $150 per textbook = $136,500 savings
  • Total student savings during Fall and Spring semesters = $220,500

OER Playlists

COC was awarded a US Department of Education FIPSE grant to support faculty development of innovative open content delivery modes. The following disciplines have developed OER playlists combining both newly created and existing OER:

  • Land Surveying
  • Biology
  • Business Law
  • Sociology
  • Animation

Leadership in National OER Adoption

COC provides leadership in national OER adoption at community colleges.  The Dean of Learning Resources and Distance Learning serves as President of the Advisory Board of the Community College Consortium for OER (CCCOER) begun by Dr. Kanter in 2007.

  • Lead CCCOER merger with Open CourseWare Consortium (OCW Consortium) including participation on Consortium board.  (Funded by Hewlett Foundation.)
  • Present on CCCOER at League for Innovation and OCW Consortium annual meeting, Cambridge University. (Funded by the Hewlett Foundation.)
  • Facilitate monthly webinars on OER issues for community colleges; topics include “promoting OER friendly policies on your campus” and “locating and using high quality OER”.

2. What impact has the work had on your institution, professional practices, and/or students?

Implementing the digital repository has allowed our faculty to discover OER in use at different institutions with ease. It has also allowed faculty to more easily share content with their colleagues—rather than the content hiding behind the password-protected wall of a Learning Management System, the content is searchable and discoverable by everyone.

Adopting and developing open textbooks has lowered costs for our students. This has also provided a means for our faculty to collaborate with colleagues from other institutions via adopter communities.

Further, the faculty who have embraced open textbooks are respected as creative and dynamic colleagues. When other faculty see these leaders adopting open textbooks, it lowers the psychological barrier that is often associated with trying something new.

Grant funds allowed us to hire part-time production staff to work with faculty on animations, videos, and audios. Being able to provide this support encouraged many faculty to try their hands at producing media-rich content.

3.  What is the evolution of open education at your institution?   What are the logical next steps and any current thoughts or plans for achieving them?

Through all the efforts described above, a major result has been that open education and OER are commonly known and accepted throughout the college.  We have been able to produce and adopt open content in a wide variety of disciplines.

For the next step in our evolution, we will pursue: targeted adoption of OER in high-enrollment and career technical education course pathways, so that students may benefit from OER in a concentrated, sustained way, rather than by chance in a single class.

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