Wake Tech added OER to one class and saved students $360K

At Wake Tech Community College in North Carolina, open educational resources are changing online education and saving students money.

Laila Shahid-El, a grant coordinator for the college based in Raleigh, North Carolina, says in a video interview that a combination of streaming video and OER is giving more students access to introductory courses.

“Many Wake Tech students take at least one online course, and it’s continuing to grow more and more all the time,” Shahid-El says. “That’s something that we’re thinking will really start to shape more and more how students experience not just their campus but the college community.”

An introductory business course, which used OER developed by the class’ lead instructor and college’s instructional support team, saved students money on traditional textbook costs, she says.

“We looked at the numbers and realized that we saved students about $360,000 for that course,” Shahid-El says. “That’s something that we’re hoping to expand more and more.”

OER has a real impact on what students are able to do, Shahid-El says. The effort also fits into the college’s overall innovative spirit.

“The great thing about Wake Tech is that we are constantly innovating. Our motto is ‘lead the way,’ and we’re always trying to figure out what that next step is, what that next leap for innovation is, so we’re focusing on online education. That’s big for us,” Shahid-El says. “We’re looking at expanding more OER resources as well, because that’s something that can have a real impact on what students are able to do.”

OER and online education is not the only innovative approach the college has taken in recent years. Last year, the college announced a partnership with IBM to to create a senior capstone course focused on blockchain technology.

The focus on online education and OER come amid efforts the college has taken to solve “persisting problems in online education.” During the 2015-2016 grant cycle, Wake Tech received a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to address the “achievement, success and withdrawal gaps for students of color and in online courses.” As a part of the project, Shahid-El says the college focused on three introductory classes — including the OER-driven Introduction to Business course — that were traditionally “high enrollment, low success.”

The project was recognized with a 2019 Impact Award at Ellucian’s annual user conference in April.

Shahid-El on Project COMPASS:

Shahid-El on challenges to Project COMPASS:

These videos were filmed in April 2019 at the Ellucian Live conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of a partnership between EdScoop and Ellucian.