Apr 26, 2022 | Grants , Featured

Columbia State Receives Funding to Continue Open Educational Resources Grant Projects

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Columbia State Community College has received $13,000 in funding to continue the Tennessee Board of Regents Digital Engagement Initiative Open Educational Resources grant project for the English Composition II pilot course that was implemented last fall.

“The benefits of OER for students run more deeply than simple cost savings,” said Judy Westley, Columbia State associate professor of English and grant project director of English Composition II courses. “The removal of financial barriers impacts students’ quality of life in profound ways. They don’t have to stress out about how they will afford gas or food or rent, and they can focus on their studies.” 

The goal of the OER grant program is to improve educational outcomes for traditionally underserved students through access to quality, inclusive and low or no cost educational materials via programs focused on providing open educational resources.

“As we continue to work on the course, we want to create more opportunities for students to engage in self-initiated and self-authored learning activities,” Westley said. “We believe that students learn better when they have a say over what happens in class. We also want to expand the kinds of readings that are offered in the course. We do hope to develop approaches that can be adapted for other English courses as well.”

In the pilot courses implemented last fall, with 480 students in total, the only potential cost to students was books. These OER materials are now loaded in the Tennessee Open Education Hub, a statewide professional learning community for faculty, which provides a place to build and share resources for the common goal of improving student success.

“The Fall 2021 pilot classes went very well overall,” Westley said. “Students especially appreciated having all of their materials inside the course space in Online Campus. This seemed to save them time as well as money. Students also praised the accessibility features of the course.”

Grant project team members will attend open educational practices training this summer and incorporate principles in spring courses, as well as participate in data collection. The team plans to develop more assignments, as well as classroom practices that promote student learning through enhanced student agency.

For additional information on the DEI/OER initiative, including a listing of all grants awarded, please visit https://www.tbr.edu/academics/digital-engagement-initiative.