Friday, January 13, 2012

Legislative News for Washington Higher Education

From the SBCTC Legislative News:

The latest chapter of the Open Course Library

At Tuesday’s Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee work session, chair Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, called the Open Course Library (OCL) “a phenomenal program” and a joint Legislative and college effort “to make sure that we’re doing everything possible to make education affordable to students.”

Funded by $750,000 from the Legislature and $1.6 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Course Library is working with community and technical college faculty to develop open materials for 81 of the most common courses so that students pay $30 or less for their course materials.

The first 42 courses were released on October 31, 2011. In the first two months, the Open Course Library received over 80 press mentions, and the web site has received over 20,000 hits. Another 39 courses will be released spring 2013. The OCL project is part of the SBCTC’s broader effort to provide free or lower-cost materials to students.

David Nelson, Green River Community College math department chair, said his math department compared the OCL calculus materials with commercial publisher materials and are now using the OCL materials. Students can access those materials online for free or buy an OCL textbook for $20. The OCL materials replace a book that would otherwise cost $140. Nelson reported that students appreciate using less expensive materials. They can download and print only the content they need in an inexpensive format. Since they don’t need to preserve their textbook for resale, students are more likely to make notes in the materials.

For more information on the Open Course Library, including content of the first 42 courses:

To watch the hearing on TVW, start at 2:00 on the timeline.

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