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NOVA professor receives grant money to boost use of free online materials

New online general education certificate program at NOVA to be textbook-free

Virginia’s Community Colleges has awarded a dozen grants – each worth $3,000 – to community college instructors across Virginia to boost the use of “Open Educational Resources” (OER) – teaching and learning materials freely available online for everyone to use.

Shelley Slaey, an assistant professor of information technology at Northern Virginia Community College’s Annandale Campus, is one of the 12 recipients. She plans to use the free online materials for her Introduction to Computer Applications and Concepts course.

“Information Technology is constantly changing,” Slaey said. “By the time textbooks reach students, the information contained inside can sometimes be outdated. The availability of open educational resources creates so much more flexibility, especially in the IT discipline.”

The increasing cost of textbooks is seen as a barrier to student enrollment and student success. Full-time students, on average, spend nearly $1,000 a year on textbooks and other learning resources, according to the College Board. The new grants made possible by VCCS encourage faculty to adopt Open Educational Resources and thereby reduce textbook costs for students.

The grant program is one of several strategies aimed at slashing the cost of textbooks for Virginia Community College students. Others include offering a textbook-free associate degree and free, Web-based resources for English courses.

At NOVA, the Extended Learning Institute (ELI) is creating a series of general education course options that will become part of an OER-based general education certificate program. The courses will be open to NOVA students and distance learning students from other Virginia Community Colleges.

“Given the escalating costs of higher education, offering textbook-free courses is just one way that NOVA can help students reduce their overall college costs,” said William Preston Davis, director of instructional services (ELI) at NOVA.

Media Contact: Jennifer Gonzalez | 703-425-5839 | jgonzalez@nvcc.edu

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.