The goal: lower the cost of textbooks and course materials for certain courses at state higher education institutions.
The means: establishment of an Open Educational Resource Coordinating Council (OERCC).
The timing: include the OERCC in the 500+ page state budget. If it passes, the first meeting of the Council would be held no later than September 2019, and its first annual report would be due no later than January 1, 2021 to the Legislature’s Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee.
The bill would require the new 17-member council to identify high-impact courses for which OERs will be developed, converted, or adopted. Under the bill, “high impact courses” are instruction courses for which OERs would make a significant positive financial impact on the students taking the course due to the number of students taking the course or the market value of the printed textbook or other educational resources required for such courses.
The Council also must:
· establish a competitive grants program for the faculty members of state higher education institutions for the development, conversion, or adoption of OERs for such courses, with council identified funds and within available appropriations
· promote strategies for the production, use, and access of OERs.
· accept, review, and approve grant applications, so long as an approved faculty member licenses such OER through a “creative commons attribution license” (i.e., a copyright crediting the author of a digital work product that allows for the free use and distribution of such product)
The bill requires an OHE executive director to appoint the following members to the council by September 1, 2019:
· a statewide coordinator to serve as the council’s chairperson;
· one faculty member, one administrator, and one staff member each from UConn, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, and the independent higher education institutions; and
· one student from any public or independent higher education institution in the state.
According to survey data from the College Board, college students spent roughly $1,250 on books and supplies during the 2017-2018 academic year.
The Office of Higher Education (OHE) executive director, currently former State Senator Tim Larson, appoints the council’s members, including the council statewide coordinator who serves as the council chairperson.
The bill states that the council members must serve without compensation, but must be reimbursed for related reasonable and necessary expenses within the limits of available funds.
The establishment of the OERCC is included in the state budget that was approved this week by the House and Senate, in the legislature’s final week of the 2019 session.