The Alabama Commission on Higher Education and the Alabama Community College System are working in tandem to provide grants to educators for training in creating online textbooks for students in Alabama colleges.
“One of the barriers to higher education is the combined high cost of tuition, room and board, student fees, and educational materials,” said ACHE Executive Director Jim Purcell. “Tuition is not determined by state agencies. However, we can help curtail the cost of higher education by supporting low-cost to no cost textbooks and other educational materials.”
“These educational materials will replace some expensive curriculum textbooks with equivalents that can be shared and customized as needed,” said ACHE Special Initiatives Director Ron Leonard. “This will result in major cost savings to students.”
These grants will pay for educators’ Creative Commons Certificate training, a 10-week online course meant to teach individuals about Creative Commons licensing and how to create and share their work openly. The training will also provide information about legal license and public domain tools related to Open Educational Resources and their distribution.
“The expansion of [Open Educational Resources] initiatives is a gamechanger for our students because they can access their course materials on day one without having to wait for their financial aid to come in,” said ACCS Academic Affairs Director Brad Fricks. “We are excited that these grant winners will be leading the expansion of OER in Alabama.”
According to a release from ACHE, the grants are currently supporting 22 individuals already in the training program that runs through March 2021. Both agencies provided funds for 10 seats, with two additional seats funded by vendors EBSCO and Wiley.
In 2018, both ACHE and ACCS launched a similar Open Educational Resources initiative. In the spring of that year, the agencies provided three all-day workshops on OER for over 300 faculty and staff across the state. The workshops provided general overviews of different types of resources, Creative Commons training, repositories and testimonials about the advantages of using them.
Later, both agencies launched a grant program to incentivize faculty for adopting and creating resources. Ultimately, 32 grants, ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, were awarded to educators at two-and four-year public institutions throughout the state.
According to ACHE, as a result of this program, over 9,000 students saved over $2,000,000.
“When I think about the ACHE-ACCS OER grant, words like ‘benefits,’ ‘possibilities,’ and ‘opportunities’ come to mind,” said Julliana Probst, associate dean of instruction at Ingram State Technical College and one of the Creative Commons awardees. “This grant will enhance ISTC’s efforts to provide reusable, no-cost educational materials to students who are 100 percent incarcerated adults. ISTC’s mission is to provide comprehensive educational services to incarcerated adults to reduce recidivism and return responsible citizens to society. ISTC is always searching for grant opportunities that will assist in providing second chances and changing the lives of the incarcerated.”