WOW! UMUC Wins National Award for Eliminating Textbooks in All Undergraduate Courses

Move to Open Educational Resources Ensures Up-to-Date Material, Saves UMUC Students Millions of Dollars Per Year

University of Maryland University College was recognized by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, known as WCET, with a WCET Outstanding Work Award, or WOW Award. The award was given for UMUC’s large-scale effort to eliminate publisher textbooks and use Open Educational Resources, or OERs, in all undergraduate courses. The move is saving UMUC’s more-than-64,000 undergraduate students millions of dollars each year.

According to WCET, it gives the award to colleges, universities, and organizations that are implementing “exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to contemporary challenges in higher education.”

Instead of requiring students to purchase publisher textbooks, UMUC is now using high-quality OERs in more than 700 undergraduate courses at no cost to students. The digital materials are embedded in the courses and can be updated or changed as needed without having to wait for a new edition of a textbook to be published.

“This award recognizes a true collaborative effort at UMUC to accomplish this critical goal on such a large scale,” said Marie Cini, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “From the deans to the instructional designers and technologists, from the faculty and program chairs who design the curriculum to library staff, this project entailed a great deal of complex work. The process of curating the latest, high-quality resources and embedding them in the courses in alignment with learning outcomes took a proverbial village of our entire academic community. I am very proud of the team because they always put our students’ learning needs first.”

UMUC is scheduled to move all graduate courses to OERs by fall 2016. The university will then be completely textbook free for all its 82,000 students.

“Because of the high cost of textbooks, many students do not even buy them,” said Matthew Prineas, dean of UMUC’s undergraduate school. “This puts a student at an immediate disadvantage. With OERs, our research has found that our students are learning the material just as well or better than with traditional textbooks. Plus, in addition to the cost savings, our ability to update the material quickly or even find additional sources that can improve learning is a big advantage for our students.”

UMUC received the award at the WCET 27th Annual Meeting, held in Denver, Colorado, from November 11 to November 13. In announcing the award, WCET WOW Award Committee chair Janet Atkinson, who serves as the director of the eCampus Center at Boise State University, noted that UMUC represents “creative innovation, hard work, and deep commitment to students and their success in higher education.”

The WOW Award is the second major award UMUC has received this year for its work with OERs. In May, UMUC was recognized with the prestigious President’s Award from the Open Education Consortium.

About University of Maryland University College

UMUC was recently named 2015 Global Educator of the Year by the World Affairs Council of Washington, D.C., for its role as a leader in innovative education models and was ranked in 2015 as the #1 “Best For Vets” college by Military Times. In addition, UMUC’s cyber competition teams have won 10 titles in the past four years, including the 2014 Global CyberLympics in Barcelona, Spain, and the first-ever Cyber DiploHack, sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

A pioneer in distance education since 1947, UMUC today is harnessing the power of learning science and technology to deliver high quality education that is accessible and affordable. UMUC offers open access with a global footprint and a specific mission—to meet the learning needs of adult students whose responsibilities may include jobs, family, and military service.

About WCET

The WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies is the leader in the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced higher education. More information about WCET’s institutional membership resources and services can be found on WCET’s website.

Contact: Bob Ludwig
Phone: 301-985-7253
Email: robert.ludwig@umuc.edu