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Civitas Learning’s new OER search tool allows students to optimize their course schedule with classes that utilize open, low-cost course materials.

Responding to student demand for ways to reduce the cost of college, student success leader Civitas Learning today announced the launch of new search technology specifically designed to help students find courses that offer open educational resources (OER). This would allow students to reduce costs for required course materials while still accessing a complete educational experience.

In response to the rising costs of textbooks over the last decade, college and university faculty are increasingly adopting open educational resources to help ease the burden on students. Civitas Learning has now rolled out new OER search functionality as part of their academic planning solution to allow students to consider the availability of OER as they build their course schedules.

“As faculty incorporate the use of OER in their classes, students need easy-to-use technology to help them quickly identify course schedules and degree plans that are most affordable,” said Dr. Lisa Petrides, Founder and CEO of the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education and a member of the Civitas Learning National Advisory Board. “Civitas Learning’s new tool will make OER more easily accessible to students, which also, most importantly, will continue to help them select courses that keep them on track to graduate.”

College Scheduler, used by nearly two million unique students in Spring 2018 alone, currently allows students to pull courses from a current degree plan, block off break times, and maximize credit hours while balancing learning with life. Administrators have the ability to enhance advising and planning services, fine tune the master class schedule, and balance course fill rates. On average, colleges and universities report up to a 3.1 percentage point increase in student persistence and up to a 3.5 percentage point improvement in graduation rates when using the app. This is consistent with other studies which have shown that students who cannot afford textbooks are more likely to withdraw or fail their courses.

Prior to its wider launch, the OER search technology has been successfully piloted at institutions within the California State University system and Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan.

OER content can be freely accessed online by educators and learners across all settings, and can be customized to address unique learning goals and standards. Dr. Petrides emphasizes, “Civitas Learning’s College Scheduler is consistent with ISKME’s efforts to make OER more discoverable. The tool will now empower students to make their own decisions about OER as a cost-saving mechanism.”

Publication Date: 
October 17, 2018