Salt Lake’s Open Educational Resources Help Students Pay for Courses, Gain Access to Materials

Salt Lake Community College (SLCC)’s math department’s free open educational math resources program, OPEN SLCC, helps make college affordable by reducing textbook costs for mathematics-related courses and making sure that students are ready for the first day of class.

Since its launch in fall 2014, OPEN SLCC has saved students almost $8 million in textbook and course fees, according to college data.

This achievement has gained national recognition, as it was recently awarded the Digital Learning Innovation award by the Online Learning Consortium at the organization’s conference in Florida.

The Digital Learning Innovation award honored both the Salt Lake math department and the college’s Faculty Development and Educational Initiatives Office’s use of open educational resources (OER) that can be downloaded, edited and shared at no cost, according to Deseret News Utah.

“Our aim is to always promote inclusive and equitable access to learning materials, helping make college more affordable and accessible to all,” said Jason Pickavance, director of the Faculty Development and Educational Initiatives Office.

Almost a third of all math and English sections offered by the school uses the resources. The math department currently leads the community college’s OER efforts, with almost 1,400 course sections using the free resources service.

The total number of sections that use the resource is 1,771 as of 2018.

Using OPEN SLCC allows students to have immediate access to learning materials as from the beginning of the course period, Suzanne Mozdy, associate dean of the mathematics department told Deseret News Utah.

The OPEN SLCC math program was created to “help match their degree goals while significantly increasing their quantitative literacy achievement rates,” a SLCC release said.

According to a 2016 survey by the Open Education Group and the Utah Academic Libraries Consortium, at least 80 percent of Salt Lake students said they have postponed purchasing class textbooks as a result of cost. In addition, more than half of the students said they enrolled in fewer courses due to text book costs.

Salt Lake is the only accredited community college in the state of Utah and serves approximately 60,000 students annually.

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