December 7, 2023
Media Contact: Dr. Martha Parham, Sr. Vice President, Public Relations
For Immediate Release
Wisconsin College breaks student barriers as global leader of OER
Dr. Sunem Beaton-Garcia, President
As the President of Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in west-central Wisconsin, I have the privilege of witnessing the transformative power of education firsthand. I often say our students’ dreams are our mission, and we take that mission very seriously.
To make that a reality, we must find solutions to their most pressing challenges. The cost of traditional textbooks has long been a financial burden on students. Many of our learners are forced to make difficult choices between academic resources and basic necessities.
Over the last decade, the cost of college textbooks has risen four times faster than inflation, according to CBS News. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, textbook prices have risen more than 1,000 percent in the span of 40 years. It is not surprising that many students opt instead not to purchase textbooks, which greatly impedes their success in the course.
Several years ago, in the face of these rising costs, CVTC realized it was time for us to make learning more affordable and accessible, and we continue on that journey.
Since 2013, CVTC has been a leader in the development of open education resources (OER). Our OER teaching and learning materials are licensed to be used, shared, adapted, and retained at no charge and do not require extra permission. Like OER, affordable educational resources (AER) make use of resources such as eBooks or journal articles that cannot be shared, adapted or retained but may be used at no cost to the student.
Our commitment to OER and AER adoption and development has led CVTC students to save $3.17 million in the 2022-2023 academic year, with each student saving an average of $341. In that same period, more than 9,300 students enrolled in courses that use OER or AER, 42 percent of CVTC courses were using OER or AER, and over 300 faculty members, staff and leadership were trained as OER champions. Out students are not the only ones who have benefitted, over 75% of colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and 48 colleges throughout the U.S. and Canada have adopted one or more Open RN textbooks.
We are just getting started. As we continue to evolve and transform the educational resources world, we also embrace artificial intelligence opportunities. The incredible potential of artificial intelligence in education to create tools and resources redefines the boundaries of creativity and innovation.
CVTC is currently utilizing AI to generate complex, relevant case studies for health care students. Through carefully written prompts by subject matter experts, we are able to create a variety of accurate health care scenarios, patients, and ailments that aid in the students’ experiential learning. This access to diversity of demographics, symptoms, and complexity in their learning will only strengthen the skills and abilities of these future healthcare professionals.
The use of generative AI is not limited to health care. We’re exploring opportunities in law enforcement, emergency services and all programs that utilize scenario-based training that can benefit from AI.
With these initiatives and our strong partnerships, we are rewriting the narrative of education, dismantling the barriers that have hindered progress. Together, we can empower our students with the resources they need to fulfill their dreams. And that is, without a doubt, our mission.
Uniquely American, community colleges serve more than 10 million students annually, providing critical access to higher education in academic and workforce development. As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), delivers educational and economic opportunity for more than 10 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers, and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support to increase economic mobility for all. https://www.aacc.nche.edu/