OER Use for Online and Emergency Remote Learning in California Community Colleges

Project Start Date: 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfire evacuations, and future potential crises, there is a growing need for digital course materials to fill the gaps left by publishers’ textbooks, which are often not available as e-versions for students through the campus library’s reserve collection. At some campuses where libraries are closed due to COVID or other emergencies, students are being forced to purchase access codes to textbooks, and many are experiencing challenges in accessing the books due to delays from their bookstores or through connectivity and other technical challenges with the online access systems that have been set up for them. 

To address these challenges, community colleges in California and elsewhere are turning to widely available Open Educational Resources (OER)—including open textbooks and ancillary resources—to build out their online course content. These colleges and their faculty are finding the flexibility needed for online courses through open licensing, which allows OER to be immediately integrated into course management systems and adapted to meet learners where they are. 

With funding from a Michelson 20MM Foundation COVID-19 Round Spark Grant, this six month project has sought to develop a set of resources to accelerate OER use for distance education. In collaboration with a selection of OER and online education champions across California community colleges (CCC), the project has sought to capture:  

  • Models and approaches to online learning, and to emergency remote learning in the context of COVID-19;

  • How and to what extent OER fits into these models, and local and state-level supports needed for its integration and sustainability;

  • Design considerations for integrating OER in online learning, including pedagogical and platform considerations;

  • Curatorial practices, such as using OER curation tools and aligning curated OER to learning outcomes; and, 

  • Starting points and tips for colleges and faculty who want to initiate OER integration into distance education. 

The project’s resulting two Guidebooks are tailored to either faculty or campus administrators and outline entry points, processes and supports for increasing OER use in online education. In addition, the project includes two webinar panels to present the guidebook and discuss issues around accelerating the shift to online and remote education through OER now and for the future.


Advancing Equity and Online Learning at Community Colleges with OER


This one-hour online panel discussion recorded on January 26, 2021 explores findings from ISKME and discussion with campus leaders on how community colleges are utilizing OER to support high quality learning experiences in the online setting.


  • Amee Evans Godwin, V.P., Research & Development, ISKME
  • Cynthia Jimes, Ph.D., Director of Research & Learning, ISKME
  • Amanda Taintor, Faculty Coordinator, Instructional Design and Distance Education, State Center Community College District, Reedley College, CA
  • James Glapa-Grossklag, Dean, Educational Technology, Learning Resources, and Distance Learning, College of the Canyons, CA
  • Ryan Erickson-Kulas, Program Officer, Michelson 20MM Foundation