With their students facing the same pressures from the economy and rising textbook prices as everywhere else in the country, the staff and faculty at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) have stretched to find solutions. Comprising 25 community and technical colleges and seven state universities, MnSCU is administered by the Office of the Chancellor in St. Paul.
It has been to this office and to Todd Digby, System Director of Libraries, that the leadership role has fallen. Digby explains that there was a legislative push in the state to reduce textbook costs for students, and because he was involved in both online education and library resources, he was recruited to look into possible alternatives, including the development and adoption of open textbooks and educational materials.
While meeting a favorable response to the concept among many faculty members, Digby found that he needed to put practical tools in the hands of instructors if they were to actually go forward, develop, and use open resources. Aware, too, that individuals and institutions around the country were engaged in efforts to create materials and make them available, he has put his energy into providing what he sees as the critical “wraparound services” that can contribute to success. From the outset two needs were identified: first, creating an online repository for Minnesota schools, and second, providing adequate development tools to faculty so they could create teaching materials in useable formats.
The first of these, building and maintaining a repository, is now being implemented through the Minnesota Learning Commons (MNLC), a partnership of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the University of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Department of Education along with public K-12 schools. Not just a home for online textbooks, MNLC hosts a wide range of learning resources, including introductory learning materials and course parts. The MNLC site also provides a gateway link to the National Repository of Online Courses (NROC), which is hosted by the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education.
To be continued.
NYT Features Curriki. Raises Awareness of Open Text Possibilities.
When the New York Times spotlights an issue, its lends an air of importance to a topic that no other media source can match. Certainly the recent NYT article about open texts featuring former Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy and Curriki, a project he spearheaded, has helped bring public attention to the issue of high textbook costs to a new level. Even more important, it has helped establish the legitimacy of open texts and their potential to reduce the cost of education.
In contrast to the Community College Open Textbook Collaborative, which as its name implies focuses on providing open text alternatives for community college classes, Curriki is dedicated to making “free, high-quality curricula and education resources” available to teachers, students and parents. Built on the XWiki open development platform, the Curriki website is a virtual clearinghouse of curricula segments with an emphasis on core K-12 subjects, including mathematics, science, technology, reading and language arts, and languages. The organization emphasizes that it wants to address “a complete curricula solution, not just a textbook or lesson plans.” At present the site hosts more than 40,000 modules that are free and available for public use. It also facilitates collaborative projects and allows registered users to upload, edit or comment on hosted resources.
Another organization highlighted in the Times article, CK-12 Foundation, is working in a parallel manner to create flexible online textbooks that will meet state textbook standards and thus compete with or replace the extremely expensive works that currently hold a monopoly in K-12 education. The Foundation has already been successful in creating nine core science and math textbooks for high school.
Join us for the next CCCOER Quarterly Meeting – June 7th – Foothill College
The next quarterly Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) meeting will be held at Foothill College’s Campus Center (Toyon Room) in Los Altos Hills from 10 am to 1 pm on June 7, 2010. Attendees can join in person or attend online.
• Keynote presentation with Q&A: Mark Miller, business development at Textbook Media, with a major open textbook announcement.
• CCCOER leadership and changes in the coming months.
• Geoff Cain of College of the Redwoods and representatives of other member colleges will provide presentations on their best practices.
• Panel discussion on textbook accessibility led by College Open Textbooks Associate Director Una Daly featuring - Jared Smith from Web Accessibility in Mind; Gaier Dietrich, acting director of the High Tech Unit of the California Community College; Julie Carpenter, Collections Director at Bookshare; and Alice Kreuger, president of Virtual Ability – who will be discussing the motivations and processes for making OER accessible to diverse learners.
We would also like to invite three other member colleges with new OER websites or other recent initiatives to give short presentations. If interested in sharing your best practices and being one of the three presentations or have any questions, please contact Monica Sain at email@example.com.
The Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) is a joint effort by the OER Center for California, Foothill-De Anza Community College District, the League for Innovation in the Community College and many other community colleges and university partners to develop and use open educational resources (OER) and especially open textbooks in community college courses.