VISALIA, Calif., Dec. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- California Community College faculty, administrators, a team of professionals and the 20 Million Minds Foundation (20MM) are meeting this weekend to transform textbook production and costs, a project aimed to save students millions of dollars and revolutionize the way educational materials are compiled and delivered.
West Hills Community College District formed the Central California Community Colleges Committed to Change, aka the C6 Consortium. The U.S. Department of Labor selected C6 in the first round of funding under the $2 billion federal program to train laid-off and dislocated workers.
The C6 is the first grantee in the nation to decide to make original work product under the federally funded Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT) free for others to reuse, a historic step forward for open resource education.
Working groups gathering this weekend seek to advance educational reform efforts and develop what educators call "open source" textbooks. The process includes pulling textbook material from existing sources on the web, thoroughly vetting the data by faculty and professionals in the field, and producing online content that students can print or download to their phones, tablets or computers.
"Right now, students pay $1,033 for books for a semester and we're looking at cutting that in half by using information online and creating our own textbook," said Sherry Barragan, R.N., Psychiatric Technician Instructor at West Hills Community College District, the lead school in the C6 partnership. "It would then cost students about $10 instead of $250 for a book that is used for one semester. One book is estimated to save California college students $70,000 a year collectively."
Saving students money is critical to student retention, educators say. "Creating more affordable materials in economically-challenged areas such as the Central Valley will help ensure that those seeking new careers and skills can achieve them and successfully enter or re-enter the workforce," said Nancy Hoff, Healthcare Redesign Education Delivery (RED) Team Leader at Fresno City College, a consortium member.
The 20 Million Minds Foundation's (20MM) software and content creation platform will be utilized for the gathering. Their newest initiative, MeshBook.org, due for release at the event, provides a unique digital experience across all devices, including real time editing capabilities allowing instructors to update a book as industry demands evolve. Foundation experts will provide technical assistance to the consortium at the event guiding the open source textbook development groups.
"This supercharged development session will bring together educators and subject-matter experts to curate and organize strategically selected content," said Dean Florez, former California Senate Majority Leader and President of 20 Million Minds.
The 20MM Foundation and nursing faculty experts have created a list of learning objectives and this weekend they expect to have the first nursing textbooks complete and peer reviewed by faculty teaching in the C6 nursing program this spring. "Nursing occupations are expected to grow 1.2 million by 2020," Florez added. "We need to get these nurses trained and ready to work."
Carole Goldsmith, Vice Chancellor, Educational Services and Workforce Development, West Hills CCD, is project leader. She's excited about the work that's been done over many months on open source textbook development and sees this week's Convergence as another ground-breaking step. "This is epic," she said. "Our participants share a common cause and vision, to change the way education is developed and delivered using quality open source materials. Our goal is to prepare students for employment in high-skill and high-demand occupations, and we think this event will open the floodgates in a way that will transform and improve access to higher education and career training."
Outside the Central Valley, the work being done by the consortium is drawing attention from others, she said. "Napa Valley College, Mt. San Antonio College and the California Nurses Education Institute have all signed up to participate this weekend. This process is receiving a lot of interest."
Contact: Carole Goldsmith
SOURCE The 20 Million Minds Foundation