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Funding Sources

Worth Looking At

Past Funding Applications

July 2010 -- Thanks to David Cole, Judy Baker, Monica Sain, several Community College representatives, and, especially, Liza Loop who created an excellent nomination of the CCCOER for The Collaboration Prize: David will blog about the application in late October.

Here is the text of the application:

CCCOER was conceived by a group of Foothill-De Anza College faculty members, administrators, and board of trustee members who recognized that the high cost of textbooks presents a barrier to college for many students. They identified the need to study alternatives and engage their peers nationwide in creating and utilizing electronic open-licensed textbooks as an alternative. Because achieving this goal demanded raising the awareness of their colleagues nationwide and engaging these colleagues in the effort to make more resources available, their efforts coalesced around the concept of a consortium primarily composed of community and four-year colleges. The first meeting was conducted on July 17, 2007 and was attended by representatives of more than 20 colleges. While some of the initial members have dropped out, over the ensuing years the consortium has grown steadily to include the partnership of more than 200 two- and four-year colleges, with five state community college associations having joined en masse. It also launched the Community College Open Textbook Collaborative (CCOTC), a project that combines the efforts of 14 nonprofit educational organizations, including CCCOER, and that is dedicated to identifying, organizing and supporting the production and use of high quality, accessible, and culturally relevant open textbooks for community college students.

The motivation and idea to create the consortium came from Foothill-De Anza (FHDA) Community College faculty members, administrators, and board of trustee members. Their interests were supported by the District itself, which was willing to house the efforts, provide a project director, supervising administrator, and three OER experts to work as a team to govern the consortium through 2015. Among their first steps was the formation of an interim steering committee with representatives from other institutions. At present the steering committee includes members from nine different colleges. This committee is charged with building sustainability and promoting the active participation of members, and these efforts have proved to be successful. The organization continues to grow with more than 25 percent of members attending one or more events during the year. In addition, nominated officers are preparing to take on tasks currently being performed by FHDA staff and contractors.

With its mission to make community college education more affordable through open-licensed textbooks, the consortium has been engaged with a series of related challenges: identifying resources; persuading authors and publishers to permit the conversion of traditional licenses to open licenses; identifying easily accessible technical formats and overseeing the porting of materials into those formats; and educating faculty, administrators, and students about the value and availability of the alternatives to traditional commercial textbooks. Each of these challenges requires different solutions. To educate community college faculty and staff, the consortium has trained faculty trainers and conducted a series of workshops around the country. CCCOER staff have also made concerted direct efforts to contact and negotiate with authors and publishers to encourage them to convert the licensing of specific books from ‘all rights reserved’ to ‘open licenses.’ Staff have collaborated with the Rice University online repository, Connexions, for conversion and hosting of open texts. Through the CCOTC, the consortium is also helping to create a bank of peer reviews that evaluate open texts, thereby building credibility for this new resource. These efforts are leading to the creation of a community of interest and helping to shift faculty from a simple interest in open texts to actual adoption.

Since the consortium is engaged in promoting the acceptance and adoption of educational resources based on a new and radically different authoring and publishing model, there are a number of directly measurable factors for assessing the success and impact of the project. The project found, for instance, that during the 2009-2010 academic year 55 faculty members in 20 states adopted thirty open textbooks for classes, including courses in business, math, , sociology, history, chemistry, and physiology courses in California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, and Washington. One text, Collaborative Statistics, by two De Anza faculty members, was newly adopted by 20 faculty members at 16 colleges and one high school in 11 states. In addition, the consortium website contains links to hosting sites with a vast array of materials. These results clearly reinforce a desire and need for further open textbooks and an enthusiasm on the part of faculty and students when adequate resources are available. A nationwide survey conducted by CCCOER found that 91 percent of faculty polled were willing to utilize open resources but only 34 percent were actively using them. These results reinforce the consortium’s mission and help focus efforts.

The consortium was conceived by a small group of faculty members at one community college in California to address a nationwide problem—the impact of expensive textbooks on the ability of students to continue their studies at community colleges. Since most general education textbooks are published by a few large companies that market and distribute their products nationally, any solution that is to have a significant impact must be able to reach that same large and geographically diffuse market of faculty that adopts these books for classroom and online use. Lacking the resources to field sales people who would, in any case, be promoting products that are virtually free, a collaborative model—supported by grant funding—that engages the enthusiasm and ideals of professional educators is an obvious alternative, especially since community college education is organized in ways that encourage the success of such efforts. The active involvement of five statewide systems (Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Washington, and Minnesota), each with multiple campuses, is further evidence that this approach can be highly effective in reaching a large percent of the target instructors. Moreover, this approach is deeply embedded in the operation of the project—not just in the consortium structure of the membership and steering committee, but in the actual trainings that draw volunteers nationally. Volunteers then return to their campuses to present what they have learned to their colleagues and raise awareness of possible alternatives as well as best practices in educational methods. These efforts not only introduce instructors to alternative texts but also help recruit potential authors, thereby also alleviating the problem of insufficient resources.