FSCJ Opens Digital Resources Reducing Student Costs

The annual costs of textbooks are about $1,300 per year for a full-time community college student-roughly a third of the cost of an associate degree.

Jacksonville, FL – Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) is one of only two colleges in Florida that has been awarded a grant to create degree programs using high-quality open educational resources (OER). The initiative, which involves 38 community colleges in 13 states, is designed to help remove financial roadblocks that can derail students’ progress and spur improvements that will increase the likelihood of college completion.

The annual costs of textbooks are about $1,300 per year for a full-time community college student-roughly a third of the cost of an associate degree. Research shows this cost is a significant barrier to college completion. The OER Degree initiative will create a library of digital, open courses available to other institutions and the public at large.

Using digital and interactive OERs such as open courseware allows faculty to continue to teach students in engaging and dynamic ways and invite students to become more actively involved in their own learning. The initiative’s requirement to create entire degree programs using OER also will trigger a careful re-examination of course content and sequencing to build up-to-date, cohesive degree programs.

“We are excited to begin the review and redesign of select online programs to allow us to offer resources that will make receiving a college education more affordable for our students,” said FSCJ President Dr. Cynthia Bioteau. “Our faculty, administrators and program managers will work collaboratively to develop advanced, customized content that complements the learning style of digital learners and provides the most comprehensive curriculum to prepare students for career opportunities and furthering their education.”

The college plans to roll out the following degrees in an OER format by the end of the grant.

1. Associate in Arts in General Studies
2. Associate in Science in Human Services

Achieving the Dream (ATD), a national community college reform network, is managing the new OER Degree initiative on behalf of a consortium of investors that includes the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, the Shelter Hill Foundation and the Speedwell Foundation.

At the completion of the initiative, all approved OER courses will be available through a comprehensive, easily accessible online platform to encourage OER adoption even at non-participating institutions.

About Achieving the Dream
Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree.

About FSCJ
Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) is a public, nonprofit higher education institution that offers more than 150 degree and certificate programs to meet the education and training needs of more than 50,000 students per year.

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