Bringing Open Education to Community Colleges: Dr. Judy Baker Introduces the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources

Jun 22, 2011

Most of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement in higher education has focused on 4-year colleges and universities. The Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER) is working to change that by bringing a national group of 2-year institutions together to advocate for the needs of community college students. Dr. Judy Baker, one of the founding members of the CCCOER, recently spoke to The Education Insider about the development of this important organization.

By Megan Driscoll

Dr. Judy Baker CCCOER

Dr. Judy Baker has over 20 years of experience in education. After studying social work and community health, Dr. Baker spent 12 years in teaching and administration at Texas Woman's University. She left TWU to manage instructional technology and distance learning at a series of community colleges, eventually joining Foothill College in California to become the Dean of Technology and Innovation. She has published widely on online learning and open education, utilizing her experience to promote the use of technology to improve teaching and learning in higher education.

Q. What does your position at Foothill College entail?

A. I currently manage the distance learning program, Foothill Global Access. In addition, I serve as the administrator for a $1.5 million grant project called College Open Textbooks. The project is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and will end in mid-July 2011.

As dean of Foothill Global Access, I engage in strategic planning of distance education and open educational resources and managing the delivery of 280 online course sections with over 9,000 enrollments each quarter. I'm also responsible for reviewing and evaluating online course development, coordinating course delivery and overseeing a variety of staff and operations.

As administrator for College Open Textbooks Collaborative, I engage in strategic planning for the project, reviewing and evaluating success metrics and conducting regional and national meetings.

Q. When did you start integrating Open Educational Resources (OER) into your work at Foothill College?

A. Starting in 2007, I worked with former chancellor of Foothill-De Anza Community College District Martha Kanter (currently undersecretary of the Department of Education) and former Board of Trustees President Hal Plotkin to establish the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources.

Q. What was the inspiration for the CCCOER and how did you get other institutions on board?

A. Martha Kanter and Hal Plotkin established the CCCOER in response to the high cost of textbooks for students in community colleges. Initially, Dr. Kanter and Mr. Plotkin invited leaders at community colleges to join by conducting presentations at professional conferences and contacting them individually.

For example, a self-paced introduction to open educational resources tutorial is available at the Connexions website, which I developed, and I taught a course at Foothill College in 2008 titled 'Introduction to Open Educational Resources.'

Also, in 2008 and 2009 I authored several articles in professional journals to broaden awareness about the CCCOER efforts.

Q. In what ways has the CCCOER changed and grown since it was launched?

A. CCCOER started as an unfunded project of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District. In March 2008, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation awarded $530,000 to the district and the CCCOER to plan and pilot the Community College Open Textbook Project for one year. Partners involved with the project include Connexions at Rice University, the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (University of California Office of the President), Flat World Knowledge and the California State University Digital Marketplace. Then in July 2009, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation awarded $1.5 million to Foothill-De Anza Community College District to continue with the open textbook project of the CCCOER.

The CCCOER has grown from zero memberships to over 200 affiliated community colleges, and the CCCOER website has received 147,716 visits to date since it was launched in 2007.

Recently, The OpenCourseWare Consortium (OCW Consortium) partnered with the CCCOER to broaden the impact of OpenCourseWare to community college students and faculty globally.

Q. In your observation, how have CCCOER member institutions benefited from being a part of the organization?

A. The primary benefit of joining CCCOER is giving a voice to community colleges in the OER movement. This means that OER strategic planning and other efforts will include community college student needs as well as K-12 and university student needs. Also important is the ability to pool resources to apply for grant opportunities.

Q. The primary focus of the CCCOER is the College Open Textbook project. How did you determine that there was a need for these resources? Did you consider any other solutions to this challenge, and if so, what were they?

A. The dramatic increase in college textbook prices is well documented. Open textbooks were viewed as one of several ways to mitigate these price increases.

In 2008, CCCOER conducted a survey of 1,203 faculty from 12 community college districts and 28 colleges across the country about their attitudes and practices with regard to open educational resources. The findings indicated a large gap between those interested in using and willing to use OER in their classes (91%) and those already using OER (34%). In order to address this gap, the CCCOER provided training and support.

No other solutions were considered by the CCCOER, although we did participate in some broader statewide efforts in California to lower the cost of textbooks.

Q. One difficulty that many organizations interested in creating and sharing open content have faced is managing copyright, an issue that can be particularly challenging when developing open textbooks. How has the CCCOER dealt with this issue?

A. Much of the training we provide begins with participants gaining a better understanding of copyright and open licensing. We advocate use of Creative Commons open licensing. For an example, see my tutorial posted on the Connexions website.

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