Transforming educational access
Melissa Hoch, a single mom providing for her family while studying, saved thousands of dollars thanks to an initiative to replace costly textbooks across her degree program with Open Educational Resources (OER)—high-quality learning materials that are reusable, remixable, and freely available. Reflecting on the program, Hoch said it was “the best thing that’s happened to me [at college].”
To scale up full-degree OER programs like the one Hoch benefited from, Redstone helped to design and launch an OER Degree Initiative in 38 other community colleges.
OER increases access to higher education for students who cannot afford to attend college while also decreasing costs for students who may be at risk of dropping out for financial reasons. From 2002 to 2012, textbook costs increased by 82%, triple the inflation rate. Eliminating these costs, which can constitute one-third of the cost of obtaining an associate degree, has been shown to increase student learning and achievement. Open resources also empower faculty with more choices for teaching and can even provide opportunities for students to learn by improving the content itself.
Redstone first worked with a leading funder to refresh its OER grantmaking strategy with plans to: strengthen pedagogy, reduce higher education costs, boost K-12 learning, and support robust technical and institutional infrastructure. Redstone then translated this high-level strategy into a detailed, implementable plan to launch an OER Degree Initiative.
“Community colleges are just beginning to use OER, so this Initiative will help build out a new dimension of the student success agenda.” – Karen Stout, Achieving the Dream
With Redstone’s assistance, the initiative recruited co-funders and core partners. Redstone helped conduct due diligence to ensure the initiative combined implementation expertise, technical assistance, and evaluation to establish results and learn from experience. Achieving the Dream launched the initiative in 2016 alongside SRI International, Lumen Learning, and the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources.