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.

Keeping an Eye on License with OER

oercommonsAs you’re conducting your search for materials, whether through OER repositories like OER Commons or simply using a search engine, don’t forget to check licenses!  A common mistake is to assume that freely-accessible online content is up for grabs.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  It is vital to remember that the defining characteristic of an open resource is that it is explicitly licensed for certain kinds of reuse and modification.  /Paragraph  Don’t fear, though!  There are not only a number of helpful filter tools built into most OER databases, but Google advanced search allows you select the kinds of permissions you’re looking for in your content.  See this video on YouTube for a quick explanation of how to use Google advanced search. /Paragraph  Lastly, we’d like to add that if you’re having trouble locating the license, look to the website’s copyright information (which is often at the bottom of the page).  If all you see is a little c with a circle around it (©) and the name of the publisher, it’s all rights reserved.  If you don’t see any license information at all, it’s all rights reserved.  However, if you see a little Creative Commons symbol and a link, you are good to go.  Be sure to note which license you’re dealing with, of course.

OER Can Supercharge Your Classes!

Post by GCC faculty John Gibson

When I started this OER adventure a year ago, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.  I was hoping to minimize textbook costs and improve the currency of course content.  But the experience has been all of that – and much more!

When my Business class met the first time last semester, some students cheered and clapped when we talked about their new textbook – which was free – a wonderful change and great way to start the class.  So when they opened Canvas for the first time, their textbooks were waiting for them, the chapters arranged as flexible modules.  We could start work right away.  The students loved the rich all-digital mixture of updated text, images, videos, and simulations (we also have a searchable and printable PDF).

But that was just the beginning of the adventure.  I found out later (on a final survey) that OER also opened new doors to learning that weren’t possible before.  After the course, most students said they now preferred digital course materials – and that the change was a catalyst which prompted them to think more about how they learned best.  Each developed their own personalized approach to mastering the material.  And I’m considering more ways that we can learn and create our own digital content in future assignments.

Finally, by going OER, I was exposed to some very inexpensive new courseware/software called Waymaker that personalized the course even more.  Interactive assessments were structured and built into the Canvas modules so that the students could learn more by practicing with these assessments (and a chapter dashboard will soon give them a quick visual summary of their progress).  The approach certainly challenged my students to think deeper about the material – and discuss it with their fellow students.  Waymaker would create personalized study guides for the students who needed them – and it helped me to easily communicate with everyone in a more timely manner.  That resulted in some lively conversations about course material beyond what I had ever experienced before.

When we all considered the advantages of an OER approach this past year, it was an easy choice continuing this adventure into the future.  You’ll never know what is possible until you look into it!

Looking for an Easy Way to Make Your First Step into the Open Educational Resources (OER) ecosystem?

Do you want an easy way to make your first step into the Open Educational Resources (OER) ecosystem? Consider simply doing an inventory of materials you are already using that might be replaced with OER. For the longest time I taught an early American Lit course for which my students paid too much for a reader with a nice cover and nearly 300 out of the 700 pages students weren’t required to read.  Upon closer review I found that most of the readings are in the public domain. 335 typed pages later (with lots of help) and a little bit of fancy .pdf formatting, I was able to provide students with a dynamic, no-cost OER version of a reader that perfectly matches the curriculum. The only addition is the set of links to author biographical headnotes that were already available to students at no cost via the college library. While public domain is only one way to find and create your own OER collection, it can begin by simply taking a look at the copyrighted materials you are already using and might be replaceable with open material.

Saving Maricopa Community College Students $5 Million over 5 Years with Open Educational Resources (OER