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MSU Denver programs and educators honored for OER efforts

The Zero Textbook Cost Challenge encourages institutions to increase access, equity and affordability through the use of open educational resources.

By Lindsey Coulter

November 2, 2020

Emily Ragan with laptop and textbooks.Gov. Jared Polis recently honored Metropolitan State University of Denver programs and educators in the Zero Textbook Cost Challenge, which encourages Colorado institutions of higher education to increase access, equity and affordability for college students through expanding the use of open educational resources. Launched last fall, the Governor’s Challenge recognizes outstanding faculty, staff and programs promoting further implementation of OER, or high-quality, freely available textbooks and learning materials.
Z Degrees, or zero-textbook-cost pathways, offer students an opportunity to undertake their program of study without spending additional money on textbooks. So far in Colorado, there are at least five such programs, with initiatives emerging across the state that provide students with more affordable pathways to program completion. The Colorado Department of Higher Education supports these efforts through training and resources to educators, including the ZTC+Equity self-paced online course.
Winners of the ZTC Challenge demonstrated exemplary performance and advocacy for OER and other Zero Textbook Cost initiatives in their classrooms and on their campuses.

MSU Denver winners include:

Ragan noted her appreciation and credited the University’s OER Task Force.

“While I’m honored to have won this award,” she said, “it’s really a recognition of the strength of the MSU Denver Open Educational Resources Task Force, the over 100 MSU Denver faculty who have attended OER trainings and faculty learning communities, and the initiatives over the past 2½ years to keep MSU Denver the best value in higher education in our state. This year alone, we believe that students at MSU Denver will save around $1 million in textbook costs due to the widespread adoption of open educational resources by MSU Denver faculty.  I look forward to continuing this work with my amazing colleagues!"

Additionally, the governor celebrated institutions and programs across the state that champion OER, including more than 50 grantees who propel work locally and through statewide collaboration. Several MSU Denver programs and leaders were also recognized as Governor’s ZTC Awards 2020 nominees:

  • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Public Speaking
  • Alex McDaniel, associate director for instructional design, Center for Teaching, Learning and Design

On Oct. 1, the CDHE submitted the annual OER report to the General Assembly’s House and Senate Education and Joint Budget Committees, as well as to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. The report shows institutions of higher education exceeding their goals and saving students millions in the process. Survey results also demonstrate growth in awareness of and support for OER initiatives at the campus level.
OER grant funds available this fall
More than $800,000 in funds are available this fall through the OER Grant Program and request for proposals. The CDHE plans to continue funding projects around the state aimed at innovating curriculum while also saving students money. The deadline for proposals is Dec. 15.

Topics: Access, Award, Excellence, OER, Student Success

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