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Washington community, technical college system wins international open education award

September 20, 2023 by SBCTC Communications

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges last week was awarded a 2023 Open Education Award for Excellence from Open Education Global. The award, in the Open Policy category, recognizes the State Board and the college system's work in open educational resources (OER) and low-cost labeling policies. With these policies in place, students can save thousands of dollars on course materials as they pursue their education. Labeling policies tell students which courses use free and low-cost textbooks and course materials, allowing them to make informed decisions as they choose and register for their classes for each term.

"We want students to get their education without having to worry about the cost of textbooks or other required course materials, and open educational resource and low-cost course labeling is that ticket," Paul Francis, executive director of the State Board, said. "Students don't have to delay or not buy books because of financial stress. That leaves them to do what they're here to do — learn."

Textbooks and course materials can be a significant barrier to students. Nationally, the average community or technical college student pays $1,460 a year for textbooks and supplies. That's about 32% of the annual tuition cost in Washington.

The Washington Community and Technical College Student Association worked with the State Board to develop and support the policy. The State Board in 2018 worked with the association to conduct a survey of community and technical college students, which gathered 10,050 responses over two months. Survey results helped define $50 as a "low-cost" course. With that data and continued student association support, the State Board in 2020 worked with members of the Washington state Legislature to make OER and low-cost labeling a statewide law.

"We are truly humbled by Open Education Global's Award for Excellence," said Boyoung Chae, who spearheaded the initiative for the State Board. "Thanks to the hard work by students, faculty and staff, students for years to come will benefit from knowing which courses use free and low-cost class materials, removing that worry from their lives."

The Open Education Global in 2015 also recognized the State Board for its report "A Qualitative Investigation of Faculty Open Educational Resource Usage in the Washington Community and Technical College System: Models for Support and Implementation," which looked at the range of faculty use of OER and motivations for implementing those resources in their teaching, and in 2016 for its Open Washington website, which provides simple ways for faculty to learn, find, use and apply OER.

Last Modified: 12/12/23, 10:41 AM
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