Grant to Provide More Free Resources to NECC Students
Haverhill, MA (August 13, 2021) – A federal grant is helping Northern Essex Community College in ongoing efforts to make classes more affordable and inclusive. NECC is part of a consortium of Massachusetts colleges that has received a $440,000 federal grant to encourage the use and development of free Open Educational Resources (OER).
OER are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.
This project is called Remixing Open Textbooks through an Equity Lens (ROTEL): Culturally Relevant Open Textbooks for High Enrollment General Education Courses and Career and Professional Courses at Six Public Massachusetts Colleges. Librarians and faculty will receive training and assistance in the creation and adaptation of OER materials that are accessible, intentionally inclusive and representative of the student population.
“This grant is focused on creating and adapting OER for high-enrollment programs that are both free to students and culturally relevant.” Says Sue Tashjian, NECC’s coordinator of instructional technology and co-chair of the Massachusetts OER Advisory Council.
NECC was an early adopter of the use of OER. Tashjian first introduced free OER to the college back in 2014 with a textbook task force. Since then, she estimates the use of free and low-cost course materials has saved 16,000 NECC students nearly $2 million. “We know that the cost of higher education is a barrier for many students, especially community college students. The use of OER is a high impact practice that addresses the issue of equity and access.”
NECC Students can easily find courses that already make use of OER by checking the box for “free access: low-cost/no-cost textbooks” while searching the course catalog.
Colleges taking part in the effort, in addition to Northern Essex, include: Framingham State University, Fitchburg State University, Holyoke Community College, Salem State University, and Springfield Technical Community College, in consortium with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.
For more information and questions about this grant and OER, contact Sue Tashjian firstname.lastname@example.org
Northern Essex Community College has campuses in both Haverhill and Lawrence. It offers approximately 60 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth. Each year, 6,000 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 2,000 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley. For more information, visit the website at www.necc.mass.edu or call 978-556-3700.