RICHMOND – More community college students in Virginia soon may be able to earn a degree with little to no textbook costs, thanks to a grant to Virginia’s Community Colleges from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The $200,000 grant will be used to fund a pilot program at 15 of Virginia’s Community Colleges. The project would offer textbook-free credentials to students enrolled in designated programs.
Based in part on Tidewater Community College’s immensely successful all-Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative, or “Z-Degree” program, the grant-funded pilot is expected to save some 50,000 students over $5 million in its first year by using high-quality open textbooks and other OER materials, which are freely accessible and openly-licensed.
“Textbook costs have been a barrier since before I was a community college student,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “Technology is changing the way we access information, making it faster and less expensive without compromising quality. We may never be able to bring that to every course of study. We owe it to our students, however, to bring that flexibility to every course that we can.”
Virginia’s Community Colleges are a national leader in developing OER materials and courses. Their investment, over the last three years, have engaged more than 100 faculty members at 16 colleges to create more than 70 open courses.
“We are proud to support Virginia’s Community Colleges in this effort to make education more accessible by providing students with the course materials they need, when they need them, using open educational resources,” said Hewlett Foundation Program Officer TJ Bliss. “This project will not only make education more affordable to students of Virginia’s Community Colleges, it will also increase their faculty’s freedom and flexibility to open up the classroom with a wide range of adaptable course materials.”
(photo courtesy of Lumen Learning)
About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 405,000 students each year. For more information, please visit http://www.vccs.edu/
About The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation helps people build measurably better lives, concentrating its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development and population, performing arts, and philanthropy, as well as grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. On the web: www.hewlett.org.