On perusing research on the challenges of adopting and promoting OER as we move into the next stage of our Near-Z Degree program, I came across a fascinating article on OER sustainability. The article, “The Tidewater Z-Degree and the INTRO Model for Sustaining OER Adoption” posited,

If a faculty member adopting OER leads to more students enrolling or fewer students dropping, this change in student behavior could translate into more tuition revenue for the institution. Were such an increase in revenue to occur, the increase could potentially be sufficient to cover the costs of providing OER adoption services to faculty. (Wiley, Williams, DeMarte, and Hilton, 2016)

The community college involved in the research chose to follow very clear steps to ensure that their use of OER was effective and produced consistent advancement in student learning outcomes.

One of the first steps they did to test this model was to strip down each course to the course learning outcomes and then matched OER to each outcome. The faculty played a part in the selection of the OER content, choosing content that was either equal to or better than the previous textbooks and materials.

Now, there is no reason that a faculty member who wants to try OER at GCC needs to jump in and do the entire course. It is possible to do a slow migration, finding quality materials and matching them by the outcomes at a pace that is comfortable for the faculty. While the results might not be as dramatic, it is much easier for a faculty member to work with the CTLE to ensure accessibility and with the Library to find those quality materials that are a near-perfect match to the outcomes. In fact, faculty can even use GCC library resources, like A Planning Tool for Incorporating Backward Design, Active Learning, and Authentic Assessment in the College Classroom to get an idea of how to deconstruct a course for a quality approach in planning to use OER.

The college in the research article also adopted a policy under their VPAA that ensured consistency and success in the use of OER. The policy required faculty who wanted to teach an OER-based course to complete training.

While the GCC OER Committee is still developing campus OER training opportunities, the district has a long-standing Canvas OER training and a workshop series. Let us know if you are interested in participating in the training we are developing. If you are interested in in-person training from the district, we are happy to arrange it through the excellent CTLE.

The researched college also stated that each course had to be designed to the college standards with approved templates for course outlines, syllabi, and other materials.

The GCC CTLE has developed both syllabus and Canvas course templates. They also offer training on how to use and adopt both.

Finally, the researched college policy committed the institution to share data and analysis of metrics to help faculty improve their courses.

I have always been a fan of using data to improve my courses. With the research that I have been finding on the statistically significant positives in the increase in grade averages and decline in DFW grades with the adoption of OER, even higher in traditionally underrepresented minorities, part-time students, and Pell recipients, I would really like to see how these approaches impact students at GCC.

At GCC, we are preparing for the Near-Z Degree pathway for students. If you are interested in finding out how you can be a part of this incredible process, reach out to any member of the OER Committee. If you would like to work with someone from your own department or a similar field of interest, we are happy to match you with one of our current OER Champions. We are looking forward to hearing from you.


Colvard, N. B., Watson, E. C., & Park, H. (2018). The impact of open educational resources on various student success metrics. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30(2). https://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/pdf/IJTLHE3386.pdf

Wiley, D., Williams, L., DeMarte, D., & Hilton, J. (2016). The Tidewater Z-Degree and the INTRO model for sustaining OER adoption. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23(41). http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v23.1828

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