Jan 252015

Follett Distribution CenterOne of the most important outcomes of the work of the Textbook Costs and Digital Learning Resources (TCDLR) Committee is what is now referred to as the VCCS Collaborative Bookstore contract. In investigating rising textbook costs, the Committee discovered extreme variations in commission rates and contract requirements among the 18 VCCS colleges that used proprietary bookstores (5 colleges ran their own bookstore). The Committee also discovered that at least 10 of these contracts were either expiring or up for renewal in the next 2-3 years. Virginia Western lead the way by issuing a systemwide RFP and eventually a contract, awarded to Follett, now used by 17 of 23 VCCS colleges. There is a good chance that additional colleges will join in coming years.

This contract has the potential to save VCCS students a significant amount of scratch, absent any additional textbook affordability efforts. It is a matter of simple economics: volume. However, to maximize this volume and increase cost savings to students, participating VCCS colleges need to establish clear and sensible textbook adoption policies. Most VCCS colleges already have some kind of policy, but the requirements vary. Many policies are fairly comprehensive, requiring consideration of cost, minimum adoption periods, etc., while others have only scant requirements.  Nine VCCS colleges have no textbook adoption policy at all.

Again, the savings are in volume. When faculty adopt textbooks for longer periods of time (say a minimum of two years) and departments adopt the same text for all sections of a particular course, Follett can drive down the overall costs by purchasing in volume. The increased number of books and the use of these books for longer periods also helps build additional inventory for aftermarket sales i.e. rental and used books, where the most dramatic textbook savings can usually be found.

The world of publishing, and textbook distribution, is changing rapidly, with the growth of web-based content, digital publishing formats, and Amazon.com, and in this upside-down world Follett sees its future as a curator of this diverse academic marketplace, finding the best content at the best prices. In this marketplace digital books are “consumables” (sold new with no life in the used book aftermarket)  and print books are “non-consumables” (sold new once, and then resold or rented at reduced cost as many times as possible). According to Follett, publishers love digital because it eliminates the used and used rental markets for print books.

Signing the contract with Follett was just the first step in realizing potential cost savings for our students. This is why members of the VCCS Collaborative Bookstore Committee, which included folks from Virginia Western Community College, Southside Community College, and the System Office, flew to Follett Headquarters outside of Chicago to discuss how to Follett and the VCCS can work together to successfully rollout the bookstore to all 17 colleges.

Follett Faculty Discover

Ultimately, the meeting was extremely beneficial, although for a  quick one-day meeting it included what I thought was quite a bit of “filler”: a tour of the Oak Brook distribution center to see the graceful ballet of Kiva, Follett’s robotic bookshelves, gliding shelves of textbooks back and forth across the massive warehouse floor; a tour of  the new aspen-grove-themed, open plan offices in Aurora, IL; introductions to all levels of Follett staff, including CEO Mary Lee Schneider; finally, at the tail-end of the day, a vibrant discussion around a meeting table to focus on the needs of the VCCS, VCCS students, and textbook affordability, with an emphasis on 3 critical issues:

  1. Follett support for open educational resources,
  2. Introduction, training, and use of Faculty Discover, the Follett’s textbook discovery and adoption platform, and
  3. Piloting IncludEd, the flat fee textbook rental program.

The VCC team departed Follett HQ with a number of commitments and action items, including developing a rollout timeline for Follett colleges, communicating the contract details with acronym-heavy VCCS stakeholder groups such as the Council of Deans and Directors (CODD), the Chancellor’s Faculty Advisory Council (CFAC), Peer Groups, and the Academic and Student Affairs Council (ASAC), presenting Faculty Discover to faculty at New Horizons and Peer Group meetings, and launching a pilot of IncludEd with 5-6 interested colleges. It is clear that this initiative will need committed and sustained support from the System Office, the Bookstore Committee, and participating colleges to be successful. After this meeting, I think we have the needed committment, and I am excited to see the eventual results of this novel and landmark bookstore agreement.



 Posted by on January 25, 2015 Bookstores, Follett, OER, TCDLR, VCCS News No Responses »
Oct 292014

Sticky_Notes_2 Congratulations to the following projects selected to receive awards from the 2014-15 Chancellor’s Innovation Fund. The 21 winning proposals below were selected from a total of 37 submissions from 21 different VCCS colleges. Due to limited funding, the CIF Review Committee, made up of both academic and workforce staff, was faced with the difficult task of judging the best projects from among many very worthy proposals.

The winning proposals include the development of a mobile 3D printing lab, several open educational resource (OER) projects, as well as many other compelling projects, including one that explores innovative financial aid processes and another that will create competency-based instruction for developmental math.  Once completed, these openly licensed projects can be used by any of our 23 VCCS colleges.

You can read more about each CIF project by clicking on the word Link beside the project titles below.

Link Project Title College Credit Award
Link Educacion Para Todos/Education for All LFCC Credit $13,748.00
Link Enhancing Learning through Early Academic Intervention Strategies VWCC Credit $16,130.00
Link GET CONNECTED with Pathway Connection: “Connecting high school completion to college and career readiness/success” NVCC Non-Credit $5,214.00
Link Faculty Inquiry Groups (FIG) – A Collaborative Approach to Hybrid Certification NVCC Credit $13,250.00
Link LEAD Academy: Leadership, Education, Engagement And Development to Increase Student Success through the GEC VHCC Credit $29,250.00
Link Expansion of Paul D. Camp Community College's Trades Programs (Fast-Track Facilities Maintenance Technology CSC and HVAC CSC) PDCCC Credit $10,700.00
Link Expanding Student Access and Success Through New Financial Aid Initiatives PDCCC Credit $25,320.00
Link Charlottesville Area Advanced Manufacturing Program (CAAMP) PVCC Non-Credit $14,820.00
Link Fabricating a Fast Track Credentialed Welder Pipeline through a K-12 and Industry Partnerships DSLCC Credit $50,000.00
Link Jump Start to College Success MECC Credit $46,575.00
Link Innovative Student Success Strategies NRCC Credit $13,600.00
Link ACT-4 Scholars Program RCC Credit $10,200.00
Link Capstone for Learning Online and Universal Design (CLOUD) JSRCC Credit $13,470.00
Link Veterans Training and Employment Network (VTEN): Advanced Manufacturing TCC Non-Credit $37,370.00
Link Bridging the Gap for Success in CTE RCC Credit $19,800.00
Link Active Learning Classroom Space BRCC Credit $39,000.00
Link Dynamic Texts: Multiple models for integrating OER JTCC Credit $14,074.00
Link Fabulous Fab Lab: Traveling Rapid Prototype Maker Workshop TCC Non-Credit $25,000.00
Link Capturing the Methods of Master Teachers PVCC Credit $16,303.00
Link Developmental Mathematics @ PVCC: Implementing and Aligning Competency-Based Instruction PVCC Credit $20,850.00
Link Creating an OER Community between Community College and High School Faculty JSRCC Credit $42,473.00
Link Project Title College Credit Award
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Oct 182014

It is almost like you are really there!

Session 1
Open Educational Resources Panel
8:30 am to 10:00 am

Moderator: Diane Ryan (TCC)

  • Raising OER Awareness – Anita Walz, Virginia Tech T Library
  • The Z-degree – Daniel DeMarte, Tidewater Community College
  • Write Your Own Textbook / Student Generated Texts – Jennifer Kidd, Old Dominion University

Session 2
Open Infrastructure Panel
10:15 am to 11:45 am

Moderator: Jim Groom (UMW)

  • A Domain of One’s Own – Martha Burtis (University of Mary Washington)
  • UMW Blogs – Ryan Brazell (University of Mary Washington)
  • Free and Open Infrastructure Initiatives – Chad Wollenberg (Southside Community College)
  • Cloud-based Infrastructure – Rusty Waterfield (Old Dominion University)

Session 3
Open Pedagogy / Curriculum
12:30 pm to 2:00 pm —

Moderator – Mano Talaiver (Longwood University)

  • Outward-facing Teaching and Learning – Jeff McClurken (University of Mary Washington), Recipient of 2014 SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching with Technology
  • OER at a CC: Just Start Somewhere – Cheryl Huff (Germanna Community College)
  • MOOCS – Tom Woodward (Virginia Commonwealth University)
  • LOOCS – Art Fridrich (Virginia State University)

Sep 242014

Education_Commission_of_the_StatesThe Education Commission of the States, an organization that, among other things, tracks state educational policy trends, recently released a report titled Open-source textbooks can help drive down the overall cost of collegeThe report highlights both legislative and non-legislative initiatives in a number of states that have been launched to address textbook affordability.

The short 5-page report gives some of its precious ink to the VCCS, mentioning the Chancellor’s OER Adoption Grants, TCC’s Z-Degree, and the OER projects at NVCC and Reynolds. You can download the full report here: http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/14/37/11437.pdf

 Posted by on September 24, 2014 News, OER, Research No Responses »
Sep 182014


  • Chancellor DuBois announced the 2014-15 Chancellor’ s Innovation Fund (CIF) call for proposals.
  • NVCC President Bob Templin has announced that he will be retiring. Wytheville Community College’s Charlie White follows suit.
  • The VCCS moves forward with the IT Help Desk and Financial Aid modules of Blackboard Student Services
  • The Virginia Education Wizard adds another prestigious award to its already crowded living room mantle.

Tech News

  • Apple unveils a spate of new and updated gadgets to a collective ‘meh‘.
  • The Google Classroom roll-out was accelerated and the new platform is now available to any Google Apps for Education institution.
  • Lots of data breaches: Gmail. Home Depot. JP Morgan. George Mason. Forbes.com has a good Data Breach Round-up here.

Upcoming Meetings, Conferences & Events

More VCCS-related events can be found at http://edtech.vccs.edu/upcoming-events/. For more official VCCS news visit the VCCS blog at: http://www.vccs.edu/vccsblog/posts/

 Posted by on September 18, 2014 VCCS News No Responses »
Sep 092014


Today Chancellor Glenn DuBois announced the call for proposals for the 2014-2015 Chancellor’s Innovation Fund (CIF). This fund provides crucial support to college faculty and staff who are driven to develop innovative projects, test out their ideas, and investigate new, inventive ways to meet the goals of Achieve 2015, particularly the goals of supporting access and increasing student success.

Past CIF recipients have used the funds to contribute such valuable, lasting projects as PluggedIn VA, the courses in the Teaching Online Program (TOP, IDOL, LOGO, TOTAL), Northern Virginia’s OER-Based Associate Degree Project, and a number of crucial workforce certifications and academic programs.

Awards range from $5000 to $50,000 for innovative proposals from colleges. Of particular interest to the CIF Selection Committee are proposals for projects that address the following areas of need:

  • Competency-based learning
  • Credit for prior learning
  • Employability skills
  • Expedited program pathways
  • Innovative approaches financial aid disbursement
  • Innovative student success strategies
  • K-12 alignment & transfer
  • Open educational resources
  • Structured program pathways

Proposals are due by 11:59 pm October 10th, 2014. The announcement of awards will be made after October 24th, 2014. CIF awards must be spent by June 30th 2014.

You will find all of the application materials and online submission form at http://edtech.vccs.edu/educational-technology-resources/cif/2014-15/.


Sep 082014

The Virginia Education Wizard has once more cast its spell on the Commonwealth, winning  a 2014 Governor’s Technology Award in the Innovative Use of Technology: Education category for the Virginia Education Wizard Mobile App. The special award ceremony was held at the annual Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) in Richmond on Sept. 3, 2014. The Wizard app was developed as a native app available for both iOS and Android platforms, and designed for both phone and tablet platforms.

The development of the mobile app was to ensure the greatest usability for the greatest number of users, particularly the increasing number of users for whom mobile devices are their primary access to the internet,” states Director of Student Support Technologies Chris Pfautz.

2014 COVITS Wizard

VA Wizards Erika Poindexter and Chris Pfautz showoff invisible technology award

The Wizard app simplifies the often overwhelming process of gathering information about occupations and colleges. With a free account, users can access supply & demand for numerous occupations in the user’s area, median salary for occupations, and colleges in Virginia offering relevant college programs of study), college details (admission criteria, application closing dates, application & tuition fees, average per-student cumulative undergraduate indebtedness, & more) for colleges across the U.S., and a cost calculator to compare the cost of attending Virginia’s community colleges with four-year colleges, demonstrating to the user annual savings and transfer savings.

The Governor’s Technology Awards were presented to honorees in nine categories. Winners were determined by a panel of government information technology (IT) experts. You can find a list of the other winners and finalists on the COVITS website, http://covits.virginia.gov/winners.cfm. Contact the Man-Behind-the-Curtain, Director of Student Support Technologies Chris Pfautz, for more information on the Virginia Education Wizard.

Sep 042014

Tsk, tsk. However, you’re in luck, thanks to my Ronco® Video Majik Webinar Playback Recorder and Rotisserie. During the hour-long webinar I not only talked about the upcoming release of the Call for Proposals for the Chancellor’s Innovation Fund but also prepared a delicious rump roast for my entire family, with no pots to scrub or webinar grease to clean up afterwards!

Kidding aside: you can find a link to the recorded session here and a copy of the slidedeck here. The infomercial for the Ronco Rotisserie and BBQ is posted below for your enjoyment.