Implementing an OER/ZTC degree pathway was very appealing for various reasons, but at the forefront, it was seen as a means to offset the cost of education for our student population. When we evaluated our data at the time, we saw that more than 22,000 Pasadena City College (PCC) students (77%) received some form of financial assistance. Of these, 8,925 students received Federal Pell Grants, reflecting eligibility based on the family’s need (PCC Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Observations 2014-2015). We were already engaging our campus community in OER efforts, and we saw this as an opportunity to focus and structure our efforts around a common goal.
When we first started to work on our ZTC Degree Path through the initial planning grant that the State provided, we were already working with AB 798 and the OpenStax Institutional Partnership. AB 798 provided us with a means (funding) to develop and provide professional development opportunities to our campus community, while the OpenStax Institutional Partnership provided us with a community of practice to share and learn about our OER initiative efforts with benchmarks, goals, and a campus plan.
Both of these opportunities provided the groundwork for planning out a degree path utilizing our growing OER sections. AB 798 and the OpenStax Institutional Partnership had us engaging with our campus at large, but the development of a degree path provided us with a more surgical-type approach. With more awareness across our campus of OER and how the cost of textbooks was impacting students, we felt better equipped to identify gaps of our general education offerings and also subject areas and work more directly within those areas.
Planning and Challenges
In order to better support the effort to create an OER/ZTC degree path, we wanted a support structure in place for ourselves. This led to the establishing a committee that was comprised of individuals across the campus and areas: faculty, staff, and administrators – from academic divisions (including counseling and the library), campus services (bookstore, DSP&S, and distance education), and of course our students through the Associated Students. We also wanted to make sure that we had a relationship with the equity initiative on campus as well as professional development, so working with and communicating with both of those entities were important and part of our structure.
As we started to look at the courses, we knew that gaps existed and bridging those gaps to complete a path was not going to be easy. We had to work more closely with faculty to encourage adoption and learn more about their difficulties and/or resistance to adopting OER or ZTC options. This often meant a lot of one-on-one meetings and dedicated support in regards to discovering, curating, and editing OER or acquiring ZTC resources. We also supported a one-time summer bootcamp effort for faculty who wanted to transition to OER or ZTC but needed that additional support. This bootcamp consisted of in-person workshops as well as a Canvas course. In the end, the bootcamp greatly assisted in closing the gaps that we had identified for our degree path.
Another key component was on-boarding counselors to help students enroll in ZTC classes and market the path to incoming students. In the beginning, counseling identified one adjunct counselor for the effort, but we discovered that having one counselor was not sufficient, and Counseling was able to support an additional adjunct counselor. Together, the two counselors have been recruiting and marketing the ZTC path to students and assisting them with enrollment processes.
In addition to the bootcamp that we developed, in our early stages, we rolled out many presentations to our academic divisions to introduce faculty to OER and ZTC. We also instituted an annual workshop as part of our Flex Day activities. We also have developed a workshop and presentation dedicated to our New Faculty cohort every year. Having these ongoing workshops have strengthened the awareness of OER and ZTC for our campus community and always lead to a few one-on-one consultations with faculty wanting to explore further.
We have tried more focused workshops outside of Flex day, but these have not been as successful with faculty attendance. For the one-off workshops, we have seen better success when there is a group that has reached out to us wanting a separate, focused workshop, instead of us (the committee) pushing out a workshop. Most recently, we held a workshop for our ESL instructors, and from that workshop we secured new OER adoptions as well as ideas for future adoptions.
Our committee structure really supports cross-campus collaboration and engagement. It provides a formal place for different stakeholders to participate and to engage with the effort. This past term, we had representatives from Strategic Communications and Marketing department come to a couple of meetings to discuss how we can strengthen our presence on campus. And since we are a subcommittee of our Student Success Committee, we also report back to them – which ties us into efforts relating to the Student Equity and Achievement (SEA) program.
Having the administrators on board, as well, has been really important for faculty participation. Not in all cases, but many times, faculty – especially adjunct faculty members – have expressed concerns and have had questions about what resources they are allowed to use. When a Dean is able to push forward a statement of support that indicates that faculty can use an open resource of their choosing – it’s very empowering for faculty.
Student Awareness & Engagement
In addition to having our dedicated counselors to recruit students for the OER/ZTC degree, we do have our ZTC sections identified through the schedule of classes. We also have ZTC information as part of our new student orientation that all new students must complete before enrolling in courses. The orientation briefly lets them know about the availability of ZTC sections and how to find them in the schedule of classes. We are also working on making our first-year experience class, College 1, a ZTC course (all sections). And we want to leverage the College 1 curriculum to reinforce ZTC information.
We did survey students enrolled in ZTC sections, but we haven’t rolled the survey out consistently every term. This is definitely something we want to have in place, though and are working towards establishing a way to make this happen in a consistent manner. The Associated Students have also included questions about textbook costs in their annual student survey.
In order to better support our counselors, we are launching a Canvas shell for the ZTC student cohort starting Spring 2020. The counselors will be able to manually enroll students that they are working with and streamline communications and updates to them. We are looking forward to building out and implementing other supports through the Canvas shell.
Our biggest challenge is maintaining the class schedule of ZTC sections. We have implemented a new structure this year to assist divisions in reporting out their sections in a timely manner and to also report out to the bookstore as well. Our scheduling office has been very dedicated and determined to get these courses identified correctly, and have been instrumental in leading, training, and supporting the divisions in this effort.
One other challenge related to this is that because the path is so broad, there are certain key sections or courses where their scheduled time is not conducive to the students’ availability, which makes it difficult for students to begin in the cohort. As we continue to grow our section offerings, though, we are hoping to alleviate this challenge. ”
We don’t have any data tied specifically to the ZTC pathway that we have developed since it is so new. But in general, our section and course offerings continue to grow. In 2018-19, we had 635 sections report out as ZTC, resulting in a cost-savings of over $1,400,000.
The most important thing for us is collaboration across the campus, as this really touches so many areas and it’s important to have those discussions within each one. Because of that, though, the initiative does need leadership – whether an individual or team – that can see how each piece of the machine is and should be working together. And just like any other worthwhile effort, it takes dedication, time, and a lot of patience.
“We have been working with our Equity initiative since the beginning, and because of that, our SEA program includes funding for OER/ZTC efforts. For example, through continued dialogues, we are now working with them to fund hotspots for our students that will be managed through the library.
We also work with professional development to ensure that faculty can get Flex credit for additional workshops that we may offer or that others offer outside our institution related to OER and ZTC.
The OER Committee is part of our campus structure, which ensures we will have a body in place to keep the efforts moving forward. And the Associated Students passed their own resolution in regards to OER/ZTC last year, which assists with making OER/ZTC a part of their structure.”
Our next steps include growing our degree options. We have identified a few other degrees that have a pathway to complete them through ZTC sections. We hope to increase our marketing efforts to make this better known to our students.
This past year we also began to train our student tutors with accessing digital texts and using the library platforms to support students that are enrolled in ZTC sections. Having them aware of how to use digital texts is something that we think will be really beneficial for our student community regardless if they are in an OER/ZTC section due to widespread use of digital resources across the campus. We are hoping to keep this training as a yearly offering and expand it as well.
A final area that we continue to think about and look into is dual enrollment. We want to expand our OER/ZTC offerings to those courses. Our ZTC counselors have already had high schools reach out for further information about ZTC and we feel that getting involved with dual enrollment will set up new collaborations with our dual enrollment sites when it comes to curriculum and instruction.