Congratulations, Zx23 Grantees!

Congratulations to all of you for being part of the Zx23 Grant Project! I know you are eager to make plans for the coming months. Please dive into the information below, and surface with your questions! I’m happy to be working with you on this meaningful project that will bring positive change to the Commonwealth. The sooner we adopt and adapt, the sooner that change can happen.

Cheers, Cheryl
Cheryl Huff, Zx23 Shepherdess
cheryl@lumenlearning 540.669.0623

What’s in store?

We are thrilled to have so many colleges joining us in this adventure. We have met with many of you already, getting everyone on board, and want to fill you in on the plans made to work with you in the months to come.

There are three main activities in our work together:

  1. Faculty collaborating to adopt, adapt, teach, and when necessary, build OER courses to share across the VCCS and beyond. We’ll help you figure out where your course fits in with open courses already in use and how to find the shortest path to bringing OER to your students.
    Next Step: Join a scheduled virtual meeting for your course or discipline, or reach out for consultation on where to start:
  2. Zx23 project participants planning credential pathways for their institutions to offer zero textbook costs for students.
    Next Step: Schedule Zx23 team onboarding and kickoff meeting for your college for team leaders, faculty and supporting librarians, instructional designers, faculty support staff and Blackboard administrators by emailing
  3. Generating shared understandings and community around OER and open educational practices.
    Next Step: Sign up for the VCCS OER Peer Group list and to go deeper, take the short course, Pathways: Adopting OER in the Classroom (sign up form) We recommend at least two members of your Zx23 project team complete Pathways to build a foundation for local understanding and community around OER and open education.

Not yet participating in Zx23? Everyone is welcome in these professional development opportunities, whether your college is already a part of Zx23 or not.

Contact Channels

Keep up to date on everything Zx23, including future Webinars and OER Events:

Course Development

We would like you to cultivate this methodology for the project: adopt, adapt, and (only when necessary), build.

As a faculty member you do not need to wait to begin using OER in your courses. You may choose to adopt an OER course that has already been developed by others this fall, and then adapt and refine the course through your institution’s z-degree program. We would be happy to assist you in reviewing and adopting existing courses, both through the webinar process and individually.

Because there are already many great resources available, you will want to adopt them for your class, then adapt them to your needs. We don’t expect many courses to need significant building or creating by faculty, but if you are in this category, you will need to devote considerable time to the project, with our guidance. If, during the initial stages of exploration, you are not finding what you need, please ask us about it. Lumen has many resources beyond the VCCS-developed materials.

 Zx23 Grant Professional Development

As you know from the grant application, there will be professional development required, and in two forms: the Pathways course, and Zx23 Webinars, both taking place in Blackboard.

  • Pathways, a Chancellor’s Innovation Fund (CIF) project designed by TCC’s Linda Williams, covers both the theory and practice of using OER. During this five module course you’ll learn how using OER benefits the students and the college far beyond the price of a textbook. You will learn how to select and use the best materials to meet your learning outcomes in a legally and ethically sound way. Pathways will be required of at least two of your team members, preferably the lead on the project plus one. The second could be a faculty member, a librarian, or an instructional designer from your team. If more members of your team want to take Pathways straight away, they are welcome to. The aim is that once your two team members have completed Pathways, they can then train the rest of the team and anyone at your college on an ongoing basis. Cohort I teams will be starting Pathways soon, TBA, as you need to be ready to pilot in the fall. Cohort II folks are encouraged to begin as soon as possible, because getting a jump on fall means you will be that much further along when the winter holidays roll around. If you wish to begin piloting in fall, we would encourage you in your plans, and help you make it happen. Sign up for Pathways here:
  • Our ongoing series of Zx23 Webinars will give you a discipline-specific tour of available OER, with instructions and how-to’s for using Blackboard + Candela materials and courses. These will be offered in cohorts by course; e.g., everyone across the VCCS working on BIO101-102 for their Z-degrees will attend the BIO Webinar. You will meet your Zx23 discipline colleagues, and find out what they are using and doing. You will learn about the Shared Courses tab in Bb and how to use it. Sign up for webinars here:

Policy and Sustainability

Another grant deliverable is to create an OER policy to ensure the ongoing quality of z-courses (see Tidewater Community College’s OER policy: The OER policy should make a distinction between an OER course and a z-course, as well as address the following areas:

  • Faculty training for z-courses
  • College open licensing requirements
  • Guidelines for continuous improvement of course materials and student outcomes
  • Procedures for using the OER attribute in SIS to identify all low-cost and no-cost courses, including z-courses
  • Develop and share a detailed plan and timeline for building out the remainder of the Z-Degree.

Please review the Grant requirements, especially the Project Timeline, the Roles and Responsibilities, and the Project Deliverables linked here, and create a project plan for your team and your college as soon as possible.

Keep in touch:

We at Lumen are excited and challenged by this powerful initiative in the VCCS and hope you won’t hesitate to communicate your questions with Zx23 Program Manager Cheryl Huff ( along with Dr. Richard Sebastian (, Principal Investigator for the Hewlett-funded Zx23 Project grant.. We are happy to work closely with everyone involved in this project, so don’t think we will only be there for your lead or admins. We encourage you to schedule an on-campus kick-off with Cheryl and your team as soon as possible, so please send some date and time options so she can get you on her calendar.

— Cheryl Huff, Zx23 Shepherdess, with the Lumen Learning Success Team 540.669.0623

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