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NOVA’s Associate Degree Project Awarded

By Submitted News September 1, 2014 5:00 am

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Northern Virginia Community College's Woodbridge Campus [Photo: NOVA]

Northern Virginia Community College's Woodbridge Campus [Photo: NOVA]

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) has been awarded a 2014 WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies.

The award honors colleges, universities and organizations that are implementing exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to contemporary challenges in higher education. The College received the award for its innovative OER-Based Associate Degree Project, which is a comprehensive approach to addressing access, affordability and student success through the use of open educational resources.

Launched in fall 2013, the project emphasizes the use of open educational resources in NOVA courses instead of traditional textbooks. Roughly 25 courses are part of the project. Open educational resources are freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media.

“It is great for NOVA to be recognized by a national organization for the work that we are doing to promote the adoption and use of Open Educational Resources at the college,” said Wm. Preston Davis, director of instructional services at NOVA. “The hard work that ELI faculty and staff have put into creating course options using free digital resources instead of textbooks will help many more students reach their educational goals at a substantially lower cost.”

NOVA is one of five WOW award recipients. The other award winners are Capella University, Colorado Technical University, Excelsior College and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 

The WOW awardees will be recognized during the WCET 26th Annual Meeting in Portland, OR November 19-21. 

The need to increase access to and reduce the costs of attending college is a burden shared by all higher education institutions.  One way that NOVA has addressed this growing concern is through the use of open educational resources across the curriculum, embedded in a series of online courses offered through NOVA’s Extended Learning Institute (ELI).

The OER-Based Associate Degree Project is designed to affect the broadest possible population of students by creating course options in a variety of subjects that will save students money and ensure that all students in these courses have equal access to all materials required to be successful in the course.

Students can take one or two OER courses, complete a one-year General Education certificate, or complete two full Associate Degree tracks that make extensive use of digital content and free/open educational resources, and do not require the purchase of textbooks. The OER project saved students over $200,000 in its first semester, and ELI students can save up to $3,500 in textbook costs by following an OER degree option.

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