Lake Washington Institute of Technology and Pierce College to Use Open Educational Resources in Degree Programs to Reduce Costs, Reinvigorate Teaching and Raise College Completion Rates


Leslie ShattuckExecutive Director/Executive Communications Officer(425) 739-8236

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Kirkland, Wash. – Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech), the only public institute of technology in Washington State, received a grant from Achieving the Dream (ATD) to create new degree programs using high quality open educational resources (OER) in new degree programs. The initiative, which involves 38 community colleges in 13 states, is designed to help remove financial roadblocks that can derail students’ progress and spur improvements that will increase the likelihood of degree and certificate completion.

The annual costs of textbooks are about $1,300 per year for a full-time community college student and amount to about a third of the cost of an associate degree. This cost, research shows, is a significant barrier to college completion. Students who don’t complete college are over 50 percent more likely than those who graduated to cite textbook costs as a major financial barrier, according to a study by the research firm Public Agenda.

Equally important, using digital and interactive open educational resources such as open courseware will encourage faculty to teach students in more engaging and dynamic ways and invite students to become more actively involved in their own learning. The initiative’s requirement to create entire degree programs using OER also will trigger a careful re-examination of course content and sequencing to build up-to-date, cohesive degree programs. These degrees will be available to a minimum of 76,000 students over a three-year period.

At LWTech, new degrees using openly licensed content in Pre-Engineering (transfer) and Biology (transfer) will be available to 3,880 students over a three-year period. The Biology transfer degree is a program for pre-medicine, pre-pharmacy or pre-dental students.

Achieving the Dream (ATD), a national community college reform network, is managing the new OER Degree initiative on behalf of a consortium of investors that includes the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, the Shelter Hill Foundation, and the Speedwell Foundation.

“Beginning this summer, faculty at LWTech will take the lead in redesigning courses and degree programs. Once fully converted to using only open educational resources, students in these courses and degree program can expect to save 100 percent of the cost of textbooks. Students will benefit from using a reservoir of high quality content customized to the way today’s digital learners learn best,” said LWTech President Dr. Amy Morrison Goings.  

LWTech plans to roll out new degree programs this fall. They will be converted to OER-only programs over the life of the grant.

The OER Degree Initiative will create a library of high-quality, digital, open courses available to other institutions and the public at large. Making resources easily available to all is expected to encourage OER adoption even at non-participating institutions.

Colleges and states that have introduced OER initiatives have already seen significant results. Studies have shown that OER reduces costs and contributes to better grades, higher course completion rates and faster degree completion.

About Achieving the Dream, Inc.:

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree.

About Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) was founded in 1949, and is the only public institute of technology in the state of Washington. LWTech offers 10 applied bachelor's degrees, 35 associate degrees, and 86 professional certificates in 42 areas of study, including STEM-focused programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.