Increased OER use by 41%
Scaled day-one digital content access for students
Utilized analytics to understand content usage
South Piedmont Community College serves Anson County and Union County located South of Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s primarily a part-time education institution, with roughly 10% of SPCC’s 10,000 students at full time equivalency. From part time to dual enrolled students, SPCC values quality, service, stewardship, and respect for all students.
SPCC has always used the traditional higher education bookstore model, but various barriers began to arise as a result of this method. Students were struggling to obtain needed learning materials - 40% of students were being forced to drop or delay enrollment in needed courses due to cost-prohibitive materials. Additionally, professors had limited insights on which texts were aiding students in their learning, and which ones weren’t as integral in achieving learning outcomes. SPCC knew that other online platforms provide e-textbooks for students, but that they didn’t provide the analytics that faculty and staff needed to ensure that students were served in the best way possible.
Dr. Malinda Daniel, Executive Director of Learning Innovations at SPCC, explained the myriad of ways that students were being negatively impacted by a lack of access to affordable course materials. SPCC students previously had to weigh the choice between life’s necessities (like groceries, daycare and housing) against the benefits of paying for their education. This choice could impact their lives now and in the future.
Dr. Daniel explains,
“As an institution that functions to get students prepared either to transfer to a 4-year institution or enter the workplace, we are helping students achieve their goals and prepare for the future with quality education and skills development. We better accomplish this with more accessible resources that meet our students' needs.”
Semester to semester, learning material costs can vary by hundreds of dollars, making it nearly impossible to accurately budget or plan for the future.
The Covid-19 pandemic created an even more urgent need for affordable and accessible learning materials - students needed books but production had halted, so costs rose. Students were also scrambling to access necessary texts from their phones, and struggling to obtain titles that the campus library would have previously provided. SPCC was led to the realization that for the good of the students, the system had to change.
December of 2021 ushered in a new initiative at SPCC called Learning Reimagined. This project was an extensive undertaking in which faculty and staff meticulously combed through and evaluated course materials from every class SPCC offers. Learning Reimagined was SPCC’s opportunity to reconsider whether every resource and class was serving students to the best of its abilities. Rather than taking a narrow approach to problem solving, SPCC sought to holistically reimagine the entire learning experience. This included implementing a new learning management system, streamlining measures to mitigate access issues, and BibliU.
BibliU believes that no student should have to wait to make progress because of a lack of affordable and accessible content, and this aligns seamlessly with SPCC’s core priority of working for the good of their students. Now, students can show up to campus on the first day of class and have guaranteed access to every material they need for the entire semester. The college set a target budget for the financial cost of BibliU for students, and they succeeded in staying within that budget.
Learning Reimagined was an effort that wouldn’t have succeeded without the wholehearted participation of SPCC’s faculty and staff, as well as BibliU’s team and their invaluable resources that aided in the process.
Partnering with BibliU was a necessity for SPCC, because in the words of Dr. Daniel, “When you know what best helps the students, how do you not enact change?”
The implementation of Universal Learning through BibliU has broken down educational barriers and leveled the playing field so that every student has access to the materials they need from day one of class. For the first time ever, SPCC is now able to access data on comprehensive material costs, overall student success, and course material engagement.
SPCC introduced BibliU to their students gradually, over the course of nearly a full year. The number of active users increased from 44 students (Fall ‘21), to 240 students (Spring ‘22), to 1,877 students (Summer ‘22), and across the college to more than 5,000 students (Fall ‘22).
BibliU has specifically served students at SPCC in disciplines like nursing – an area of study that requires new editions of textbooks every year, therefore removing the opportunity to save money through borrowing or buying used textbooks. Now, SPCC nursing students don’t have to worry about buying a brand-new edition for their course every semester.
In addition to e-textbooks, SPCC students are able to access Open Education Resources (OER) with more ease and freedom than previously, which opens doors to serving students who may otherwise struggle with accessibility challenges that traditional textbooks present.
SPCC has already seen the positive change that BibliU provides through OER. 35.33% of SPCC’s course sections now utilize OER. In fall 2022, 20.08% of SPCC’s courses are using OER. This is a 41.17% increase from 14.71% using OER in the previous semester.
Reflecting on the BilbliU implementation process at SPCC, Dr. Daniel says,
“Transitioning to more accessible content, particularly OERs, has been a herculean effort by faculty and staff. What we were collectively able to accomplish in a year through the assistance of the support team at BibliU has been all for the students. We have done a lot of work and BibliU has been a big part of that.”
With student success as a guiding principle, SPCC partnered with BibliU to provide an affordable, accessible, textbook resource for their students. While any measure of institutional change can be challenging, the college knew this transition - which involved college-wide collaboration between faculty and staff - was required in order to best serve their students.
Providing Digital Content Access to Students Who Have No Other Content Access Options
Enabling Round-the-Clock Content Access for All Students
Streamlining the Content Acquisition Process and Expanding Digital Reserves