Ten BC Faculty Chosen for Student – Success Project

Ben Harthun / The Jibsheet
Ben Harthun / The Jibsheet

In a ground breaking project to create an educational resource that will be open for global use, ten instructors and staff from Bellevue College have been selected to work toward the goal of dramatically improving community college completion rates, creating new resources for faculty, and lowering textbook costs for students.
Directed by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), the Washington State Student Completion Initiative will launch new programs and expand successful pilot programs that target key barriers for student success.
The initiative is funded by the state Legislature with a $5.3 million investment by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $800,000 from the Ford Foundation.
With $6.1 million in grants from the Gates and Ford foundations, the initiative is working on a 15 month project, the Open Course Library: a library of course content for eighty of the most heavily enrolled first and second year college courses that have no copyright associated, meaning that the content will be available for use free of charge by instructors not only in Washington, but for anyone around the world.
In collaboration with other community college professors in Washington and scholars from Carnegie Mellon University, the ten BC representatives are creating the modules and generating the content for the library.
The Open Course Library will take off the burden of textbook prices by dramatically reducing costs for books and other course materials. The goal is that students will spend no more than $30 for books and materials for each course. Students often pay at least $200 for books in any one course currently.
“Do you have any classes where your textbooks were under $30?” asked Dale Hoffman, a Mathematics instructor who is participating in the project. “No, not a prayer. Certainly not with Chemistry, not with Mathematics, not with History, not whatever.”
BC has received a grant of $110,000 to fund the participation of its faculty and staff.
The participants from BC are:
Chemistry instructors Jennie Mayer, Jacqueline Drak, Dan Mitchell and Gina Fiorini are working together on a Chemistry II course. Business instructor Leslie Lum is working on an introductory Business course. Hoffman will be working on Calculus I, II and III.
Philosophy instructor Mark Storey is working on a Logic course.
Librarians David Oar and Nicole Longpre are joining other librarians in helping faculty identify and acquire instructional materials and integrate information-literacy content and problem-based learning techniques into the courses. Bookstore manager Kristen Connely is working to make course materials more affordable.
Before being published on the internet, there will be insurance that the quality is accurate and clear. The courses will be created by the professors with help from librarians, reviewers, and be tested by classes.
The goal that SBCTC has is to achieve student completion rates of 95 percent in the 80 highest enrollment courses that students in Washington community colleges must take to earn a degree.
These courses are mostly core courses that draw more than 400,000 enrollments annually. The courses will not necessarily be online courses, but the material is available to be downloaded on the internet.
“When you wander around the web you find some wonderful stuff and you find lots of junk,” said Hoffman. “What I would kind of love to see is some of the third world countries where textbooks are outrageously unaffordable, but laptops are becoming more available, that someone could simply via the web download this English language calculus book. Maybe it’ll be a teacher for a class somewhere in Kenya. And they know they can legally use it for free.“