THE OPEN COURSE LIBRARY: USING OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES TO IMPROVE COMMUNITY COLLEGE ACCESS
Goodwin, Mary Ann Lund
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Community colleges are committed to meeting the educational needs of the communities they serve and they have increased access to higher education by offering new and innovative services to students often unable to attend traditional baccalaureate institutions. An innovation known as Open Educational Resources (OER) promises to make college more accessible and affordable by reducing textbook costs. OER are digital materials offered openly and freely for others to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research. This dissertation, based on a descriptive qualitative study, examines how faculty participating in the Open Course Library, a grant project sponsored by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, redesign community college curriculum using OER to improve access, student success and reduce student costs to attend institutions of higher education. The study used interviews and document analysis to look at how faculty approach innovation and adopt and change curriculum in light of new resource and delivery options. The study also considered how OER influence curricular redesign and looked at the resources faculty relied on to redesign course curriculum for the Open Course Library. Viewed through the lens of Rogers' (2003) theory of the diffusion of innovations and Innovation-Decision Process model, study findings suggest that while faculty may be motivated to adopt new innovations like OER, for some, the time it takes to identify and integrate OER into courses presents a significant barrier to adoption. Financial and other incentives can mitigate these barriers, however, and encourage faculty to adopt new curricular innovations. Further research is needed to determine the most effective way to motivate faculty to develop and use OER in order to increase educational access and student success.