Supporting Increased Use of OER for Online and Remote Learning In California Community Colleges

In higher education, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly exacerbated existing inequities and ushered in new urgent challenges to which states and institutions have had to respond. Additionally, Californians have been facing wildfire evacuations, loss of homes, and disruptions to campus and life as usual. To answer continued crises, there is a growing need for digital course materials to fill the gaps left by publishers’ textbooks, often not available as e-versions for students through the campus library’s reserve collection. Recognizing that recent crises signal a longer term shift to online learning, the need for sustainable access to quality digital materials means that Open Educational Resources, or OER, must play an increasingly significant role in addressing access and equity. OER offers an equitable, technology-enabled way to meet the real-life needs of students, no longer burdening them with the high cost of materials, while empowering faculty with flexible and collaborative approaches to course design.

Using open licensing and incorporating principles of Universal Design for Learning, California institutions, such as Fresno City College, Butte College, Reedley College, College of the Canyons, and West Hills College Lemoore have led the way in leveraging  OER for emergency remote courses. Distance education leaders, instructional designers,  and faculty at these campuses recognize OER as an essential part of the long-term shifts to online teaching and learning. In addition to providing access to materials at no or low cost, OER adopters are able to put attention requirements for culturally relevant, engaging materials for their learners in the online setting.

Over the last six months, ISKME, with support from Michelson 20MM Foundation, collaborated with these five OER champions to document their OER course building successes and challenges as they worked to meet the increased need for online learning. ISKME has synthesized learnings into the useful resource specifically for faculty: OER & Online Learning: Faculty Quick Start Guide: Strengthening the Shift to Online Learning in California Community Colleges Through the Use of OER. A second guide for administrators will be released by early December. 

Built on a framework that combines open educational practice with effective online learning design, the guide offers multiple, ready-to-use entry points for faculty to dive into OER in ways that align with their content and pedagogical expertise—and with their campus’s approach to online learning.

Specifically, the guide offers:

  • Practical strategies for using OER to build courses in Canvas, the learning management system used by community colleges across California

  • Examples of the ways that OER can be used to meet the requirements of quality online course design, and specifically in alignment with the statewide online course design rubric for California Community Colleges

  • Considerations for using OER to create more accessible, relatable learning experiences for students right from the start—including strategies for leveraging Universal Design for Learning, campus accessibility guidelines, and anti-racism frameworks in the development of OER 

The overall aim of this work is to enable system-wide shifts to meet institutions' long term goals for distance learning, beginning with faculty's curriculum needs in response to the COVID-19, as well as longer term shifts in the face of potential future crises. 

Blog post by Amee Evans Godwin, VP, Research & Development, and Cynthia Jimes, Ph.D., Director of Research & Learning, ISKME



OER & Online Learning: Faculty Quick Start Guide: Strengthening the Shift to Online Learning in California Community Colleges Through the Use of OER.



December 2nd, 2020, 12:00-1:00 PM Pacific Time on Zoom

Register to attend this free webinar event hosted by the Michelson 20MM Foundation and ISKME. Our project team and distinguished guests from the CA Community College system will discuss the Guide, their approaches for online teaching and learning and OER, in the face of the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. 

November 05, 2020