OER Degree Pathways

By Anyi Fomengia:

As more and more schools invest in the adoption and adaptation of open educational resources (OER), some institutions are taking it a step further. In partnership with Achieving the Dream – and in some cases, independently – a number of community colleges around the country are piloting OER Degree Programs.

An OER Degree is designed to give students the opportunity to pursue a full undergraduate degree without having to purchase and course materials. For many students, a textbook can cost as much as tuition for a community college course, so this is a much-needed relief valve for economically disadvantaged students.

The number of OER degree programs is increasing rapidly – here are just a few examples:

Montgomery College located in Montgomery County, Maryland:

  • Referred to at MC as a Z-Degree
  •  3,400 students in 200 zero-cost sections saved about $340,000 spring semester 2017
  • 96% enrolled on the first day were still enrolled at the end of the semester
  • Instructors use OpenStax OER materials in the classroom

Bunker Hill Community College located in Boston, Massachusetts:

  • 3/4th of the students are on financial aid
  • 3/4th of the students are working
  • 3/5th of the students are parents
  • 14% are homeless
  • 1st generation to college and immigrants
  • 45% are food insecure
  • Students have saved $400,000 in textbook costs because of the program

Odessa College located in Odessa, Texas:

  • 96% of students who start a class finish it
  • 82% complete with an A,B, or C
  • 60% of their students have economic struggles
  • Achieving the Dream grant helped students save hundreds of thousands of dollars in one semester alone

Baltimore City Community College, located in Baltimore, MD:

  • Just began using OER this fall 2017
  • Classes available in psychology, biology, and their student success seminar
  • Books are available the first day of class
  • College’s OER Taskforce hopes to expand and institutionalize OER classes.

You can find out more about the Achieving the Dream initiative here: http://achievingthedream.org/resource/16746/launching-oer-degree-pathways-an-early-snapshot-of-achieving-the-dream-s-oer-degree-initiative-and-emerging-lessons, or from Lumen Learning at oerdegrees.org. 

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