CCCC hosts statewide Open Educational Resources Conference
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Dr. Richard Sebastian, director of open and digital learning for Achieving the Dream, was the keynote ... (more)
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About 170 academic leaders attended the Open Educational Resources Conference on Oct. 7 at the Dennis ... (more)
SANFORD - As college costs continue to skyrocket nationwide, more people can't afford the education they need to get ahead in life. But a movement called "open educational resources" is trying to change that by replacing traditional textbooks with videos, e-books and other material available free online.
How exactly to make it happen was the focus of the Open Educational Resources Conference, a statewide event on Oct. 7 that drew about 170 academic leaders to the Dennis A. Wicker Civic & Conference Center.
"I'm not saying that we are some kind of ed-tech, silver-bullet solution," said Dr. Richard Sebastian during his keynote address. "But it's the most successful educational innovation that I've really ever encountered."
Sebastian is director of open and digital learning for Achieving the Dream, a Maryland-based nonprofit that works to make community college accessible to more people and help students succeed on campus. For the last several years, he has helped colleges around the nation design entire degree programs built on courses using open educational resources.
Speaking to conference participants seated at tables in the civic center's main exhibition hall, Sebastian said gatherings like this are crucial because they connect people who can then share material they develop for use in the classroom.
He cited examples of what's happening now in individual colleges and state systems around the country and gave specific suggestions on how to connect faculty and colleges that are serious about adopting the approach.
"When you're talking about open educational resources, you're talking really about sharing," Sebastian said moments before the conference began. "You're talking about these materials that you can freely share and adapt and change. When you start to connect people together, many hands make light work."
After Sebastian's keynote address, the conference continued with a panel discussion and smaller sessions where representatives from universities and community colleges shared the nuts and bolts of how the ideas played out on their own campuses.
Dr. Rodney Powell, who is executive director of the Central Carolina Community College Center for Academic Excellence and organized the event, hopes teachers and administrators at his own college will use insight from the conference to build on work already underway to reduce student costs.
While tuition in North Carolina remains low, that's just one part of the total cost students pay to attend. "The cost of textbooks has increased roughly 300 percent versus the cost of inflation in the last 20 years, which has only gone up about 50 percent," Powell said. "The only thing that's equivalent to the cost of textbooks in higher ed is healthcare."
Powell believes adopting open educational resources is particularly important for CCCC, where well over than half of the students receive financial aid of some sort -- and the money they do receive doesn't cover all of their educational expenses. "By decreasing the amount that it costs for them to attend, we can increase their accessibility to our college," he said, "which is part of our mission."
The sold-out conference was organized by CCCC in collaboration with NC Live, a statewide cooperative providing 1.4 billion online articles, videos and e-books to more than 200 libraries across the state.
For more information on Central Carolina Community College and its programs, visit www.cccc.edu.
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