PRECONFERENCE WORKSHOP: HBCU Affordable Learning Solutions: Scaling and Sustaining Institutional Strategies and Expanding the Cultural Collections of OER

Streamed Session HBCU Equity and Inclusion

Brief Abstract

Leading HBCUs implementing Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) will share their practices for supporting faculty changing to no-cost and low-cost digital course materials and institutionalizing AL$ with policies and practices. Strategies for creating OER that are culturally relevant for Africana learners and implementing open educational practices will be presented as well. 


Gerard L. Hanley Ph.D. is the Executive Director of MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, and SkillsCommons ( for the California State University, the Director for the Center for Usability for Design and Accessibility and Professor of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach. At MERLOT and SkillsCommons, he directs the development and sustainability of the international consortium and technology strategy to provide open educational services to improve teaching and learning and continues to development the US Department of Labor's open repository of educational resources for workforce development. Gerry's previous positions include Assistance Vice Chancellor for Academic Technology Services at the CSU Office of the Chancellor, the Director of Faculty Development and Director of Strategy Planning at CSU, Long Beach.
Robbie K. Melton, Ph.D. Is a tenured professor and transitional dean of Graduate School for Tennessee State University. She is also founder and CEO of ‘RobbieTech4Teach’ and formally (20 years) Associate Vice Chancellor of Mobilization Emerging Technology for Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) assigned to develop the system’s Strategic Emerging IOE Technology Planning and provide system-wide Professional Development and Faculty Training related to education technology support and services for teaching, learning, training, and workforce development, product testing, pilots and research. Melton is currently overseeing research regarding the ‘Emerging Technology of The Internet of Everything (IoE) of Smart Connected Devices and Mixed Reality Technologies’ (VR/AR/Holograms/Wearables) for enhancing teaching, improving learning, and increasing workforce productivity; curating IOE Smart Educational Devices, Gadgets, and Tools; and primary investigator for HBCU OER Affordable Learning Solutions Pilots and OER Workforce Skills Commons
Dr. Veronica Douglas McEachin, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana is a highly motivated and energetic individual, who received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Southern University in Baton, Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. McEachin continued her studies at Kansas State University where she earned a Ph..D in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Educational Technology and Multicultural Education. Her love for education followed her into the workplace. She currently serves as the Director of E-Learning at Southern University, Shreveport. Her extensive background includes Director of Academic Information Technology, Chair of the Division of Natural and Computation Sciences, Interim Director of Sponsored Programs, Assistant Professor in Computer Science, Computer Programmer Analyst and Data Processing Analyst. Dr. McEachin is also an experienced trainer who has successfully conducted technological workshops for individuals at all levels.

Extended Abstract

For the past 7 years, the HBCU Affordable Learning Community has been building the organizational, programmatic, and technical foundation for their Affordable Learning Solutions program for all HBCUs.  Tennessee State University (TSU) has successfully institutionalized the Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) strategy and has been recognized as outstanding and exemplary by Berkeley project.   TSU have been successfully incubating AL$ projects at various HBCUs by leveraging the Hewlett grants in partnership with the California State University Long Beach MERLOT-SkillsCommons programs. Along with other vanguard HBCU institutions, we now have a community of over 20 HBCUs that have implemented AL$ and has successfully enabled HBCU faculty to redesign their courses and adopt OER to reduce if not eliminate the cost of course materials for their students.   MERLOT-SkillsCommons closely collaborated with the HBCU leadership group to design and maintain the HBCU AL$ Community Portal that showcases the individually customized, institutional AL$ portals, and all the open educational services that all HBCUs can use.

The HBCU AL$ community, in partnership with MERLOT-SkillsCommons, have designed an open portal ( that provides easy access to:

  • the largest aggregate collection of  free and open e-textbooks, open courseware, open access journals, open learning objects, and more
  • A collection of free and online teaching-learning resources that have can be used to ‘culturally contextualize’ course curriculum with resources about Africana leaders and histories of HBCUs.  The collection also lets users explore materials that have been authored faculty from HBCUs across a variety of disciplines as well as materials “curated” by faculty from HBCUs.
  • over 50 general education courses with multiple free and open e-textbooks aligned with the course curriculum
  • free and open collections of virtual labs in STEM and workforce development curriculum
  • over 100 free and open teaching ePortfolios that showcase faculty’s adoption of OER across a broad range of disciplines
  • a free and open library of planning tools, guidelines, and professional development resources to support HBCUs developing and implementing their own AL$ programs
  • free and open methods for sharing their use, reuse, revision, remixing, redistribution, and retention of OER that they have adopted and authored

In the past year, six (6) HBCUs have been institutional leaders mentoring an additional 18 affiliate HBCUs  in planning and implementing AL$ within their campus.   With support from the William and Hewlett Foundation, Tennessee State University has become the national “hub” for HBCUs AL$ program and is collaborating with MIT OCW in developing and prototyping strategies for creating culturally relevant OER for Africana learners.   The co-creation of these processes and resources will be presented and attendees will have the opportunity to apply these processes within their campus context.

The pre-conference workshop will begin with the leaders of AL$ programs at the HBCUs sharing their strategies, practices, and outcomes as the first step in helping workshop participants develop their strategies and plans for an AL$ program on their campuses.   We will outline a “readiness checklist” for planning your AL$ program and review a planning template for participants to consider how they might customize it for their campuses’ plans.   Participants will share their ideas, concerns, and questions for the HBCU leadership team.


***This virtual workshop is open to all registered Innovate 2023 attendees at no additional charge***