Since the spring of 2011, Chadron State College has been involved in the Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative which focuses on using open educational resources (OER) to enhance student success. Some benefits resulting from participation in this project include:
Improved student success
Often, students waiting on financial aid and/or loans are not able to purchase required course textbooks until the second or third week after the course start date. Delayed textbook access places students at a disadvantage. These students are behind from the very beginning of the course. Use of open educational resources in Kaleidoscope courses provides students with access to materials on the first day of class. Access to course materials on the first day of class enhances student performance and learning. This, in turn, leads to greater student retention.
Reduced cost for a college education
From fall 2011 through fall 2012, 655 CSC students enrolled in Kaleidoscope courses taught by 11 different instructors saved over $58,000 in textbook expenses. Students who leave college without a degree are often from less privileged backgrounds. For these students, the deciding factor for leaving is often college affordability.
Improved course quality
The Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative provides faculty members the opportunity to collaborate across institutions to develop, implement, reuse, and redesign content using OER and open course frameworks. The long-term value of such an effort is immense. Within higher education the current approach to course development can be described as "reinventing the wheel". When a professor retires, the expertise and experience obtained from many years of teaching a course is lost. Kaleidoscope is an endeavor to design, reuse, and redesign courses through a community of professors with a range of expertise. This allows the opportunity to "build on the shoulders" of others by doing significant intellectual work on teaching and learning, much like what is done in research. This process increases the likelihood of real breakthroughs in teaching and learning employing a continuous improvement approach via a faculty community.
Sustained local faculty control within a teaching commons
While fully developed courses are available, and may be especially helpful for new faculty, faculty members are encouraged to contribute by tailoring courses to fit their students. Such a blended course capitalizes on
1) the expertise of the community of faculty within the teaching commons by delineating the common ways all students learn and
2) the faculty member’s experiences and expertise in identifying the ways student learning is idiosyncratic.
As Derek Bok challenges higher education in Our Underachieving Colleges, we can do better. The Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative is one effort, among many, in which Chadron State College is embracing the challenge to do better.