Boosting Affordability and Success in Gateway Math Courses with OER Redesign

Concurrent Session 1

Brief Abstract

In fall 2015, Tallahassee Community College’s math department shifted all sections of two high-enrollment math courses to open educational resources (OER). Learn how TCC saved students $535,000, granted day one access to all students, and turned a corner on students’ ability to succeed, all in a single year.


Kim Thanos is the CEO of Lumen Learning. Lumen provides well-designed, low-cost digital course materials that help colleges and universities offer the best education to all students, regardless of socioeconomic status. Core to its approach, Lumen guides institutions to use open educational resources (OER) to their full benefit. Kim has spent the past ten years focused on the challenge of how to move OER from a concept that is philosophically interesting, to a practical tool that is changing success rates for at-risk students. Through that journey she has worked with hundreds of institutions to explore content creation and adaptation models, student and faculty engagement approaches, economic impacts, institutional strategy and policy, faculty collaboration, and the possibilities that open education provides to create to a more personalized learning experience.

Extended Abstract

In fall 2015, Tallahassee Community College’s math department followed the lead of a pioneering faculty member and made the decision to shift all sections of two high-enrollment math course to open educational resources (OER). In a single year, this move saved students over $535,000 in required textbook costs, granted day one digital access to course content for all students, and made an immediate impact on students’ ability to succeed in these gateway math courses.

During this session, TCC’s Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Calandra Stringer discusses the departmental decision to undertake an OER redesign of gateway math courses, as well as TCC’s approach for happened next: selecting target courses for the redesign, selecting an OER support partner, and the faculty-driven process for tailoring course materials to fit Florida’s state-defined learning outcomes and course objectives. She will also share impressive student impact metrics from the first academic year using OER for high-enrollment math courses, and TCC’s approach to ensuring program sustainability.

Adding nuance to the discussion of faculty process and support is Lumen Learning’s Kim Thanos. She provides an overview of the process of providing training, tools, facilitation and support to make the transition to open content easily manageable for faculty, and the customizable OER course materials and online homework system that deliver hands-on learning and practice for students.

In real time during the conference session, attendees will be invited to participate in a math course using MyOpenMath, the OER-based system adopted by TCC and supported by Lumen Learning. Dr. Stringer will illustrate, with examples, the results of TCC faculty members’ efforts to select course content, design and adapt online practice problems to fit the instructional approaches used by TCC faculty members as well as the learning outcomes defined at the state level in Florida.

Following this hands-on show and tell, Dr. Stringer will pose interactive questions for the audience about the potential opportunities for designing a better-aligned curriculum for use within state-wide systems to ensure all students are learning the same information and performing according to system- or state-defined standards and course objectives.