All posts by Alisa

I'm the faculty director of the Center for Teaching, Learning & Engagement at Glendale Community College in Arizona. I teach Freshman Composition and Literature online and blended as well. I'm also a Tri-Chair for the Maricopa Millions OER project.

Getting faculty to collaborate on developing OER is easy–especially if they barely know they’re doing it!  

From Matthew Bloom, English Faculty, Scottsdale Community College.  

scc_logoWe’ve probably all heard that groan before.  You know: the one that follows any suggestion that a task is going to be made even more complicated than it already is because of some arbitrary decision made by someone else.  That sound–somewhere between disappointment and irritation–that you make when you realize that your house keys are in your left pocket and since you’re holding all the grocery bags in your left hand you’re going to have to put them all down just to unlock the door.  Something like that.

That was the sound I did not want to hear from all of my colleagues one Friday morning when we’d gathered to work together to develop some practice exercises related to our department’s assessment program and I wanted to make sure that what we produced was open.  We were broken up into groups and tasked with writing questions that would test a student’s ability to determine the relevance of evidence as used in an argument.  We were going to be there for a few hours still.  The last thing anyone wanted to hear from me at that point was, “Hey, everyone, make sure that you put a Creative Commons license on your work” or “Yeah, so don’t use any copyright-restricted materials.”  It would have been additional complication.  So I was sneaky about it.

“You know,” I told them, “if we just make up all of the examples, we don’t have to worry about violating copyright.”  That was it.  No mention of Creative Commons and no mention of OER (at that moment).

For the most part, everyone nodded sagely at my advice (I think they understood that we didn’t want to get sued).

Then, when we were done and lunch had arrived, I explained that I would compile the questions we’d produced and, after quickly verifying that nobody had been copying from the web, slap a Creative Commons license on it all.  Everyone agree that it was a good idea.

They had developed OER without really even knowing it.  All it took was a sly OER advocate to focus their attentions in the right place.


How are Savings for the Maricopa Millions Project Calculated?

To calculate the savings for the Maricopa Millions Project, the following steps are taken each Fall and Spring semester.

  1. Identify the number of sections of each of the 50 highest enrollment courses that use “No cost or Low Cost” materials (i.e. less than $40)
  2. Identify the number of sections of additional developmental education courses (not in the 50 highest enrollment courses) that use “No cost or Low Cost” materials (i.e. less than $40)
  3. Add the number of sections from #1 and #2 above and multiply by 20.  Twenty students is a very conservative estimate for the average class size.
  4. Multiply the result from #3 above by $100.  One hundred dollars is a commonly used dollar amount for average savings per student.

Filter used to help students find “No Cost/Low Cost” course in the class schedule (Links to an external site.).

OER Filter 2015.png

How will students react to OER?  

Post from John Gibson, Business & IT Faculty, Glendale Community College, Arizona.  

Business_Description_ImageThis is my 3rd semester teaching an OER-based “Introduction to Business” course.  The impact was immediate.  When I asked my students on the first day how they liked having a free textbook, there was widespread and enthusiastic applause to start the class.  How often does that happen?  They appreciated the easy access to their textbook that first day.  Even though a third of them were not sure about using digital materials and another third thought they needed a print copy, it required a little training and for each person to consider and experiment with what learning approach best worked for them.  But by the end of class 96% said they would suggest this approach for future classes.  2% decided to print the textbook from our PDF file.

Maricopa Millions: $9 M and Still Going




Maricopa Millions OER Project

Saving Maricopa Community College Students $5 $10 Million over 5 Years

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that are copyright-free or have been released under a copyright license that permits others to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute them. Examples of OER include full courses, course modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab and classroom activities, pedagogical materials, games, simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from around the world.

The goal of the Maricopa Millions project is to radically decrease student costs by offering LOW COST or NO COST options for course materials. Courses designated as NO COST will have no additional cost to the student beyond fees associated with tuition. These might include OER, licensed online resources purchased by the MCCCD for student access, etc.

Well into the 4th year, Maricopa has saved students over $9,000,000. We love typing all those zeros. Although we haven’t officially updated our goal to $10 million, we should easily meet that by the end of year 5.

Each semester, the Maricopa Millions projects issues a call for proposals for grants for faculty to find, adapt, and create OER course materials for their courses. The current rubric is weighted towards high enrollment classes, to make the greatest impact for students. Faculty who are awarded the grants are funded for three main tasks: (1) training in OER, (2) development of their OER course materials, and (3) piloting the materials.

Phase 1: Completed.

  • First-year composition I (ENG101)
  • First-year composition II (ENG102)

Phase 2: Completed.

  • College preparatory reading (RDG091/100)
  • General chemistry lab (CHM130LL)

Phase 3: Completed.

  • Introduction to psychology (PSY101)
  • Introduction to business (GBS151)
  • Preparatory Academic Writing III (ENG091)

Phase 4: Completed.

  • Introductory Biology for Allied Health (BIO156)
  • Fundamental Chemistry (CHM130)
  • Healthful Living (HES100)

Phase 5: Pilot

  • General Chemistry (CHM15x)
  • Introduction to Statistics (PSY230)

Phase 6: Development

  • Elementary Spanish (SPA101)
  • Introduction to Human Anatomy and Physiology (BIO160)
  • College Mathematics (MAT14x)

Phase 7: Development

  • Elements of Statistics (MAT206)
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice (AJS101)
  • Public Speaking (COM225)

We’ll be sharing these OER course to Canvas Commons by the end of this semester. Learn more about the project at

OER Math at Phoenix College

Blog Post from James Sousa, Math Faculty, Phoenix College:  

Image from JAMIE DYRA

I have been a part of creating 11 OER math courses.  Many of the courses can be found as template courses on  Each course consists of an eBook, online homework, video lessons and video examples.  In the development process of each course, my contribution was the creation of videos to support the course topics. All of my videos can be found at  Almost all of the other course content was created by other dedicated faculty members that were willing to openly license and share their work.  While there was a consider amount of upfront work to create these courses, the effort to create each course was well worth it.  

Now that the courses are complete, the focus is to make each course better each semester rather than dealing with new editions of publisher textbooks.  The OER courses have saved students from having to buy a textbook.  More importantly, every student has all of the resources they need to be successful on the first day of class or before.  This allows learning to begin on day one!  If you would like to learn more about teaching with OER and creating OER course materials, you may want to consider completing the free course:  Becoming an open educator.  This course will address the following topics:

  1. What is ‘open’ education?
  2. Why use open practices and resources?
  3. Using open educational resources Unit content
  4. How to create and share open educational resources
  5. Putting ‘open’ into practice

Mining Open Courseware

mitopenIs it possible that you’ve become so caught up in developing and licensing your own materials that you’ve forgotten about open courseware?  Searching the web for the term will yield many results, from institutions such as Tufts University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Irvine.  Just last week, I was speaking with an instructor interested in OER and I happened to mention a MOOC/Open Course out of Tufts about water purification systems.  This instructor’s face lit up because he was, little did I know, a hydrologist looking for just that kind of material.  Although he may not use the entire course, the good thing about OER is that, for the most part, you can take certain parts and remix them with your own or other materials to create the course that you want.