Innovation award targets rising cost of educational resources

The Faculty Commons council is currently in the process of ranking the candidates for the President’s Innovation Award for Open Educational Resources. The council is expected to release their rankings by the end of the quarter. The recommendations will then be passed onto BC President Dr. David Rule for final judgment. Because Rule will not receive the  council’s rankings until the end of the quarter, winners for the award will likely not be announced until after the start of winter quarter.

The $10,000 award is to be divided among selected faculty and department projects as an incentive for excellence as defined by the theme. This year’s award targets the rising cost of educational resources. “Particularly at a place like Bellevue [College] where the Board does not have tuition control, … I’m very interested in open educational resources as a means of lowering the overall cost of education,” explained Rule.

The Faculty Commons is coordinating and managing the project. The application process addressed the sustainability of the program, the amount of money students would save, how the framework could be applied to other courses and how the project will meet the needs of students with little or no access to technology.

Resource costs are of significant concern to students, as reflected in the 2012 Associated Student Government survey and in the incomplete data from the 2013 ASG survey. Shawn Jafri, organizing director for the Office of Student Legislative Affairs, will pursue means of advocating for this topic should this year’s student survey indicate it as a top priority upon completion. Jafri went on to cite custom textbooks and non-reusable materials as two of the many unnecessary costs for student resources.

In acknowledgement of these high costs, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges created an open course library. Stated on the open course library website, “he courses provide faculty with a high-quality, affordable option that will cost students no more than $30 for textbooks.” According to Connie Broughton, director of learning and open education for the SBCTC, this has already saved students over 5.5 million dollars at no expense to student success.

Rule aims  to incentivize faculty to try methods they would not have otherwise and continue this award annually, opening it to future theme suggestions.