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TCC makes math courses more affordable with open educational resources

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (May 24, 2016) – Math faculty at Tallahassee Community College took the leap in fall 2015 to shift two high-enrollment math courses to open educational resources in order to eliminate problems with textbook affordability and access. The change saved 4,825 students more than $535,000 on the cost of textbooks.

 

Using sample courses, technology and support from OER adoption partner Lumen Learning, TCC faculty members tailored materials to fit Florida’s state-defined learning outcomes and course objectives. Every student in Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra receives automatic access to those course materials.

 

According to Calandra Stringer, TCC’s dean of curriculum and instruction, the change made sense. “We know that each day that students are not prepared will decrease their chances of success in a math course. Using open educational resources, we can be sure students have access to the material they need to succeed from the first day of class.”

 

Jim-Smart.pngOpen educational resources first got the attention of TCC’s math faculty through the work of Jim Smart, an associate professor of math at the College. Smart saw firsthand the problem of textbook affordability preventing his students from succeeding in his classes. Smart offered to pilot open content in math courses. After seeing the impact on students, he became a program champion, partnering with Lumen to train colleagues and rapidly expand TCC’s approach in order to benefit more students.

 

“We chose two high-enrollment subjects that are often gateway courses for students going into business and STEM fields,” said Smart. “This initiative gave us an opportunity to collaborate and get creative about using OERs to deliver the best learning experiences we can provide.”

 

Open educational resources are published in the public domain or with Creative Commons licenses that allow for sharing, modification, remixing and redistributing the content. In addition to aligning content with Florida’s state learning outcomes, TCC faculty members tailored the materials to fit how they teach math in the classroom.

 

“The collaboration we saw between math faculty at Tallahassee Community College is an ideal model for other higher education institutions,” said Kim Thanos, CEO of Lumen Learning, which provides curated open content, faculty training and technical support for the TCC program.

 

For TCC, using OERs has been a win-win proposition. In addition to freedom and flexibility in the course content, instructors appreciated being able to start teaching on the first day of class because they know students have access to the materials. Students liked not having to buy a pricey textbook and being able to access course content right inside the College’s learning management system. TCC’s District Board of Trustees, when they saw how much money open educational resources save students, approved a small course fee to ensure the program’s sustainability.

 

After experiencing the tremendous impact of OERs in gateway math courses at TCC, Stringer sees great potential for OER-driven course redesign.

 

“This is an opportunity for faculty from different institutions and disciplines to work together to create something that is hugely valuable to our entire state,” she said. “Many Florida students jump from institution to institution. Using state standards and course objectives, we can design a better-aligned curriculum that ensures students are learning the same information across the board.”

For more on this story, visit lumenlearning.com.

For information contact Julie Curtis at (503) 840-5569 or julie@lumenlearning.com or Calandra Stringer at (850) 201-6036 or STRINGEC@tcc.fl.edu.

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