“[openCI] It’s been very beneficial.
As a low-income student it’s hard for me to afford course materials;
so it means I am able to use the money from material on food and rent.”
openCI, our version of the CSU systemwide Affordable Learning Solutions was born in Fall 2016. Since then, openCI, coordinated by Jaime Hannans and Jacob Jenkins with Jill Leafstedt as the administrator, has created significant savings for our students while raising awareness about the cost of textbooks and the breadth of pedagogical fit with alternative materials such as open educational resources (OER). For many years, our faculty have looked for more affordable materials for our students in the form of old textbook editions, supplemental materials, etc. Under Jaime Hannans and Jacob Jenkins’ leadership, all these efforts have been coordinated and expanded, providing learning avenues for faculty such as the openCI Ambassador program and creating impressive student savings of nearly $3M.
In Fall 2018, CI became the first CSU to declare two Z-Majors: Communications and Early Childhood Studies followed shortly by Health Science. Several other programs are working toward majors that involve fewer or no textbooks. Specifically, we hope to expand and are working towards program-level efforts for Business & Economics, nursing RN-BSN track, and the SPED credential program. As more programs came on board and the interdisciplinary nature of the courses grew, openCI Program Faculty Leads were appointed. Currently, we are a small but mighty team:
- Health Science Z-Major Program Lead- Kristen Linton
- Communication Z- Major Program Lead – Megan Kenny Feister
- Early Childhood Studies Z-Major Program Lead – Lauren Chase
- Business & Economics Program Lead – Maria Ballesteros-Sola
As program leads, we support openCI strategic goals at the program level. We raise awareness about OER, facilitate conversation among our faculty for adoption and creation of course materials and evaluate and verify that the pathway for the Z-majors continues to exist each semester. We also help to recruit faculty for openCI ambassadors, communicate reminders about resources and specific support, collect students’ inputs and voices, report on students’ cost savings related to our programs, and share and celebrate our faculty’s success each semester. Ah, last but not least we also encourage faculty to mark their courses in the catalog as “NO-COST”. Please do so for your fall courses. Let your analyst know!
While we are proud of our progress every semester, we are aware that there are still many challenges ahead. For instance, the continuing sustainability of the Z-majors is of high importance but we have changes and growth occurring, with new leadership and new faculty in course sections each semester. Other challenges include interdisciplinarity of each major, securing buy-in, cultural resistance, and courses that require lab materials that are hard to substitute
At the end of the day, the most important thing for us is to remember why. Why did we adopt OER in our classes? Why did we become openCI Program lead? It is the impact on our students’ budgets and learning that keeps us motivated. The students really are our driving force.
Next week we will be celebrating Open Education Week, coordinated globally by the Open Education Consortium. Here on campus, we will showcase the work that our faculty, students and administration are doing to support open education in practice. We are excited to welcome engaging keynote speaker Hal Plotkin to our big campus celebration on Wednesday, March 4th 2-4 in Petit Salon. All events are free and open, no RSVP needed, we hope to see you there!