As the cost of a college education remains prohibitively high for many people, university and college leaders met at a recent White House invitation-only event to discuss how they are using so-called “open educational resources” (OER) programs to lessen the financial impact on students. The White House’s recent Open Education Symposium included Salt Lake Community College’s Jason Pickavance, director of educational initiatives and a champion at SLCC of using OER-based courses for a variety of subjects.
“The Salt Lake Community College OER Initiative has saved students over $750,000 since we started tracking savings in the summer 2014 semester,” said Pickavance. “This fall semester we saved students about $300,000 with about 150 OER sections. We’re offering OER-based courses in math, biology, business, education, English, history, sociology and psychology. Our goal is to save SLCC students at least $3 million over the next three years. We’re on track to complete that goal. In the fall of 2016, we should have 300-400 open sections, at least doubling this year’s total.”
During the White House symposium, school leaders, technology tool providers, state leaders and other stakeholders met with senior administration officials to “demonstrate the positive impact that openly licensed educational resources can have on teaching and student learning.” Earlier this year the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) gave the first biennial Alan E. Hall Innovation for Undergraduate Student Success Award to Pickavance and Suzanne Mozdy, associate dean of SLCC’s Math Department. USHE recognized the pair for their efforts with SLCC’s own OER initiative to make affordable online resources more available for students.
“The invitation to the White House event was a recognition of the fact that SLCC is doing exciting things in the open education space,” Pickavance said.
Salt Lake Community College is an accredited, student-focused, comprehensive community college meeting the diverse needs of the Salt Lake community. Home to more than 60,000 students each year, the College is Utah’s leading provider of workforce development programs. SLCC is also the largest supplier of transfer students to Utah’s four-year institutions and a perennial Top 10 college nationally for total associate degrees awarded. The College is the sole provider of applied technology courses in the Salt Lake area, with multiple locations, an eCampus, and nearly 1,000 continuing education sites located throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Personal attention from an excellent faculty is paramount at the College, which maintains an average class size of 20.