Oregon’s community colleges are working on textbook cost reduction in many ways, and open education is gaining momentum as an innovative and long-term solution to the problem. This January the Oregon Community College Distance Learning Association hired me as Coordinator of Statewide Open Education Library Services to support and promote these efforts. The 17 community colleges in Oregon are autonomous – each with their own board – so it is important to have a central role to help share resources and information as each college starts from a different place and moves the textbook bar in its own way.
The past six months have been busy. The website openoregon.org launched in February. It is being used to promote relevant resources and events. A listserv of the same name launched in March in order to facilitate communication and information sharing. One of the features of the website is campus reports that showcase the different work being done by community colleges all over the state.
Portland Community College, Blue Mountain Community College, and Lane Community College hosted four regional OER conferences this spring that brought together faculty, staff, and students for day-long workshops. Central Oregon Community College hosted an OER Day on their campus as well. My position comes with funding to travel throughout the state and I have begun to visit colleges to offer workshops and facilitate campus discussions. OER support is evident not just from faculty and students but also from the enthusiastic involvement of bookstore managers, accessibility services staff, media and IT departments, and librarians.
Keep an eye on the OpenOregon site for an announcement about OER grant awards. The grant proposals could have spent the available funds six times over, which demonstrates the energy, enthusiasm, and creative thinking that is going towards the textbook problem at community colleges here. With this kind of momentum, we expect to see real progress this year.
The Oregon Community College Distance Learning Association (OCCDLA) which represents Oregon’s 17 community colleges has been a member of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) since 2012.
Amy Hofer is Coordinator, Statewide Open Education Library Services, in Portland, Oregon. Before this she worked as Reference & Instruction Librarian at Portland State University and as Research Instruction Librarian at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. In her spare time, Amy is a fiddler, square dance caller, and auctioneer.