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Thursday, November 19 • 11:00am - 11:30am
The Portable Z: How Virginia is Scaling the Z-Degree Across Its 23 Colleges with the Zx23 Project

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One advantage of a centralized statewide postsecondary system that shares core infrastructure, policy-making, and governance among diverse institutions is that often, promising innovations are able to scale more easily, and more quickly, than in decentralized systems. The Virginia Community College System (VCCS) has just this sort of centralized structure, which is enabling the widespread adoption and use of open educational resources (OER) across the system. Three years ago, only a small fraction of VCCS faculty had heard of OER, with far fewer using open materials in their courses. Today, with support from System Office grants, professional development funds, and local college monies, Virginia's colleges have helped develop over 70 new open courses, with many of these courses being adopted by entire college departments. Led by the pioneering work of Tidewater and Northern Virginia Community Colleges, Virginia already boasts three all-OER associate degrees, or Z-Degrees. Collectively these efforts have not only saved Virginia college students millions of dollars in textbook costs but have increased their chances of academic success.

In April 2015, The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation awarded the VCCS a grant to help fund the Zx23 Project. The long-term goal of the Zx23 Project is to identify what factors make a Z-Degree portable from one community college to another in order to eventually scale the model to all 23 Virginia community colleges. To that end, the grant from Hewlett is helping the VCCS to accomplish three initial objectives: (1) Adopt, adapt, and pilot Z-Degree courses across VCCS colleges, (2) establish models for sustaining and supporting future OER infrastructure, and (3) create a "roadmap" to be used by other institutions interested in scaling and sustaining a statewide or system OER infrastructure.

A cohort of sixteen VCCS colleges began work on the Zx23 Project in Summer 2015, with project faculty currently piloting new Z-Degree courses in September and planning courses for the Spring 2016 semester. Lumen Learning, an integral partner in the project, has been working closely with participating colleges to help build degree pathways and common OER practices and infrastructure, and to evaluate the outcomes of the pilots.

The goal of this session is to provide a valuable, on-the-ground report of the early results of this ambitious effort midway through its first year, as well as stimulate conversation and ideas about the project from the broader OER community.


Thursday November 19, 2015 11:00am - 11:30am PST
Vancouver Island

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