Case Studies

This section provides nine examples of implementation of course materials marking from across the United States and Canada. Representing a variety of institutional types, each case study provides a unique take on the guidance provided in the preceding sections, walking readers through the thought processes, over the hurdles, and toward the successes of individuals and teams charged with implementing open and affordable course marking. Each case study concludes with recommendations for colleagues looking for ways to implement similar initiatives on their own campuses.

Case study submissions were received through an open call during Summer 2018. Because course marking initiatives are still relatively new, the volume’s editors hoped to showcase a variety of institutions, processes, and perspectives and, thus, most case studies that focused on the implementation of course markings at higher education institutions were accepted for inclusion. Since we began working on this book, the number of institutions implementing course markings has continued to grow. We encourage those who were not able to contribute to this volume but who wish to share their own experiences to post to the Marking Open and Affordable Courses discussion board (n.d.) or share on social media using the hashtag #MarkingOER.

The case studies in this volume are organized alphabetically. Each begins with a box introducing key features of the case study: type of institution, impetus for implementation, student information system, marking used, and unique features of their story. These boxes are color-coded to correspond to the type of institution: systems (e.g., State University of New York) in red, 2-year institutions in green, and 4-year institutions in  blue. Case study authors were also asked to provide recommendations at the end of their chapter. This was almost the only guidance provided, as we wished for each institution to be able to share their experiences in their own voices.

As will be explored in the case studies, each featured institution independently selected labels and definitions for their markings. Thus, the terminology and low-cost threshold vary within the nine case studies. For example, Central Virginia Community College, uses a marking that defines OER courses as those that use open, free, and low-cost materials, including content that is not openly licensed. Other institutions define OER traditionally but attach a small fee to those courses to pay for initiatives’ sustainability.

Table 1 provides an overview of the nine case studies featured in this volume, presenting key features and relevant legislation of each. We hope this summary will help readers compare case studies and find that which most closely aligns with the program needs of their own institution. Additional information on the markings used at each institution is provided in Chapter 17 (Marking Definitions).

Table 1. Key features of nine case studies
Institution Name Institution Type Location Legislation Student Information System Marking
Central Virginia Community College Community college US – VA VA HB 2380 In house OER
CUNY Public system US – NY State budget allocation CUNYFirst (Peoplesoft) “Course uses OER/Zero cost course”
Houston Community College Community college US – TX TX SB 810 PeopleSoft Low Cost (L)
Zero Cost (Z)
Inclusive Access (S)
Z-Degree (hidden)
Kansas State University Public 4-year US – KS None KSIS (Peoplesoft) Open/Alt Textbook
Kwantlen Polytechnic University Public 4-year Canada – BC None Banner (Ellucian) “This course section has ZERO TEXTBOOK COSTS and is part of the Zed Cred program”
Lower Columbia College Community college US – WA WA HB 1375 In house Alternative Educational Resources
Mt. Hood Community College Community college US – OR OR HB 2871 Jenzabar Low Cost: Under $50
No Cost: $0
Nicolet College Community college US – WI None PowerCampus (Ellucian) No Cost
Low Cost
SUNY Public system US – NY Achieving the Dream OER Degree Initiative grant; state budget allocation Varies by school (e.g., PowerCampus [Ellucian]) OER (system-wide backend); student view varies by school


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Marking Open and Affordable Courses: Best Practices and Case Studies Copyright © 2020 by Breeman Ainsworth; Nicole Allen; Jessica Dai; Abbey Elder; Nicole Finkbeiner; Amie Freeman; Sarah Hare; Kris Helge; Nicole Helregel; Jeanne Hoover; Jessica Kirschner; Joy Perrin; Jacquelyn Ray; Jennifer Raye; Michelle Reed; John Schoppert; and Liz Thompson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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