Nicole Boliaux, Deseret News
Salt Lake Community College graduates listen to speakers during the 2017 commencement ceremony at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday, May 5, 2017.

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake Community College faculty-led team has been honored for innovations in digital learning that are helping students succeed academically and cut textbook expenses.

SLCC’s educators were among 10 faculty-led teams selected from among 60 submissions in the Online Learning Consortium’s DLIAward competition. The team was honored for adoption of digital courseware.

Their initiative, Open SLCC, is a national leader in the use of open educational resources. More than 1,400 course sections at Salt Lake Community College use open educational resources instead of traditional, more costly textbooks.

Open educational resources are any type of educational material that is in the public domain or introduced with an open license. That means anyone can legally and freely use them, copy them, adapt them and share them.

The resources can include full courses, course materials, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software and other tools.

The Open SLCC team includes sociology professors Daniel Poole and Deidre Tyler; biology professors Melissa Hardy, Dan Carpenter and Tim Beagley; and Jason Pickavance, director of faculty development and educational initiatives.

They and other SLCC educators have helped some 54,000 students save more than $4.6 million through the use of open educational resources.

“This is a huge deal for our students, who often lack the financial resources to purchase expensive textbooks,” Hardy said in a statement.

“I teach a course for which I still use a department-mandated traditional textbook, and it was heartbreaking this semester to receive emails from students saying they couldn’t afford to purchase the book. One student told me it was a choice between the textbook and buying medicine for his sick child. In contrast, when I teach with free, open textbooks, all my students have access to the course materials on Day 1 of the semester, and it makes a difference in their success.”

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DLIAwards submissions underwent two rounds of review, first by a team of institutional-level and higher education organization-level reviewers, who narrowed the field of submissions for final review by a national panel of judges.

“The mission of the OLC DLIAwards is to discover student-centered active learning solutions that advance the world of digital learning for all students,” Kathleen Ives, CEO and executive director of the Online Learning Consortium, said in a news release.

“The awarded projects in this year’s competition truly support this mission and serve as valuable models that other institutions can emulate as they embark on their own digital courseware initiatives.”