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Monday, May 20, 2013

Open Course Library Expands Free Content

Advocates of the Open Course Library (OCL) estimate it has saved students about $5 million on course materials in just a few years. Now, the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges has expanded the library’s offerings to include 81 of the most common community college classes.

The OCL project, funded by the state legislature and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, brought together state community college faculty to create online textbooks and course materials that are freely accessible and open to any student across the nation, not just those in Washington.

At Pierce College, Lakewood, WA, 500 students have used OCL text in precalculus and other math courses and achieved similar success rates to students using traditional textbooks, while saving about $50,000 in textbook costs, according to David Lippman, a Pierce College math instructor who helped develop the open material.

“I was fearful about taking a strictly online course, especially one dealing with math since I haven’t taken a math course in over 30 years and the online option was very new to me,” Terri Questi, a Pierce College student who took a Lippman math course using OCL content, said in a release. “The course was well organized with clear requirements and grading system, helpful videos to supplement the text, and responsive instructors who replied quickly.”

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