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OPEN FL: State Strategies

Guide for the open and affordable learning community of Florida, OPEN FL.

State Strategies and Collaborations

Accomplishments by the community:

  • Goal 2. The State University System will reduce the costs of educational materials for students.


  • Strategy 2.1 Develop a statewide model for the use of eTextbooks and other open educational resources to reduce costs for students in Florida.


  • 2.1.1 Determine and promote methods to increase the use of open-access textbooks and educational resources to reduce costs to students.
  • 2.1.2 Reduce the costs of eTextbooks for students hrough mechanisms that could include negotiating lower pricing with vendors and providing an enhanced repository for educational materials.

Contracts negotiated with vendors should ensure that such materials are accessible to students with disabilities.

  • Florida CourseShare is an initiative that uses Canvas Commons for sharing course materials created and donated by instructors from across the Florida State University System. These digital course assets can be used in part, or in full, as a high quality and economical starting point for course development or to meet critical curricular needs during times of emergency.
  • Affordability Counts was created as a direct response to the increasing costs of textbooks in higher education. The program recognizes faculty who take steps in their courses to advance affordability across Florida state universities and colleges. We encourage faculty across Florida to explore our Affordability Counts website as a reference for low-cost materials or submit a low-cost course of their own.


Florida Academic Standards.

Florida is a national leader in education reform as our laws and policies provide the framework and guidance for a high quality K20 system. Because of innovative laws, students in Florida may: transfer credits earned at any state college to other state colleges; search and register for over 52,000 courses from one statewide catalog from all Florida public colleges and universities; earn guaranteed admission to a state university after earning an associate degree from a state college; and access a free comprehensive online education and career planning system (DLSS, 2018). Florida Statute 1007.25 provides academic standards for the state in the areas of general education courses, common prerequisites, and other degree requirements.

"On January 31, 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 19-32, outlining a path for Florida to improve its education system by eliminating Common Core and paving the way for Florida students to receive a world-class education to prepare them for jobs of the future." FLDOE2019, source:

OPEN FL will build upon and align within these infrastructure advantages to maximize collaborative efforts and the dissemination of OER use, including its impact on student success.

General Education Courses- 36 credit hours total, 18 core credits.

Through the 2012 House Bill 7135, amendment to Section 1007.25 of the Florida Statutes, faculty committees recommended approximately 30 general education core courses. Students must complete at least one identified course from each of the general education subject areas (including communication, mathematics, social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences), which gives students eighteen credit hours; all of which are guaranteed to transfer to any Florida public institution, unless exempted under law. Several elements of our state system make it particularly promising to focus on general education courses and degree pathways. The following infrastructure elements support this effort.

A. Common Prerequisites Manual. Since 1996, higher education institutions in the state of Florida have maintained (through discipline committees) a list of common prerequisite courses for every degree program. The purpose of such a list is to provide students, especially those planning to transfer in state, with information regarding the courses that they will need to take to be admitted into upper division programs (DLSS, 2018):

B. Standard Course Numbering System. A cornerstone of academic standards in Florida is the Standard Course Numbering System (SCNS), established in the 1960’s. The SCNS allows seamless transition between K-20 systems,

C. State of Florida Arrangements. Articulation Agreements,, are used to facilitate seamless transfer of student credit among Florida’s educational entities. In addition, House bill 859, signed into law June 2017, authorizes reciprocity agreements with other states. The State of Florida has worked diligently over the last twenty years to align academic standards across higher education institutions, giving this state the ability to avoid “intersegmental inconsistencies with respect to the nature of some commonly taught courses” (ASCCC Task Force, 2018). 

Under the provision of rule 6A-10.024, career ladder agreements established associate degree programs that articulate into a bachelor degree for designated programs. This project will support the full degree pathway for two out of nine of these agreements and additional programs will be supported in general education course requirements, which equate to around 25% of total credit hours. Career ladder agreements Nursing and Business were chosen for a variety of reasons, including enrollments, job placement %, workplace demands, earning potential, and current industry needs.

Table 1. Detail of Nursing and Business programs

Associate Degree

Baccalaureate Degree

Total Credit Hrs.




Business Admin.

Business, General OR Admin. & Mgmt.


OPEN FL leverages the expertise of state experts throughout the 40 public colleges and universities. As the state of Florida seeks to adopt OER at scale, public institutions of higher education will be on hand to share best practices and successful strategies learned through current efforts. The Florida College System (FCS) institutions, composed of 28 state and community colleges that serve nearly 800,000 students, has embraced the development and implementation of OER (Florida College System, 2018). According to a 2017 FCS brief on OER, 27 colleges reported using OER as a method to increase affordability and reduce costs to students. Two FCS institutions—Broward College and Florida State College at Jacksonville—were part of Achieving the Dream’s Open Educational Resources Degree Initiative; at Broward College the development of OER materials has resulted in $4.75 million in savings to students. At Daytona State College, college mathematics faculty developed textbooks for Pre-Algebra and Elementary Algebra and made them available at no cost to students on the college Learning Management System (LMS). South Florida State College has committed to an aggressive initiative, SFSCopen, to promote and institutionalize use of OER and saved students $450,000. (Florida College System, 2017).

The focus presented here will build on State of Florida degree completion efforts, including high school dual enrollment and certificate to degree pathways. Degrees picked for this project emphasize career and technical education and were pulled from the State of Florida’s existing 2+2 and Industry Programs. Recent data available on target programs indicate high enrollment, low-income participants, in-demand industry and occupations, and increased wage potential. In addition, these programs build on transferable credits and incorporate general education.

Target degree-pathways include: 

1) Practical Nursing->AA/AS Registered Nurse->BA/BS Registered Nurse; 

2) Business Admin->AA Business Admin->MBA Business Administration; 

3) Accounting Tech.->AA->BA Accounting; 

4) HVAC->AA/AS Multiple->BA/BS Multiple; 

5) EMT->AA/AS Multiple->BA/BS Multiple; 

6) Information Tech.>AA/AS Multiple->BA/BS Multiple (i.e. Cyber Security); 

7) Dental Hygiene->AA/AS Multiple->BA/BS Multiple.


Emergency Medical Technology/Technician (EMT), Information Technology, and Accounting Technology/Technician and Bookkeeping certificate program completers made higher than the Florida statewide median first-year earnings. Ambulatory Health Care Services is forecasted as Florida’s top fastest growing industry through 2024, while Nursing and Residential Care Facilities and Management of Companies and Enterprises rank in the top ten. Healthcare occupations dominated 2016-2024 forecasted fastest growing occupations. Accounting ranked in the top ten supply gap occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher (Economic Security Report, 2017). Employment outcomes for A.S. Degrees within target areas show:

Table 1. Based on Economic Security Report 2017 Supportive Data.

A.S. Degree Program

% Employed

First-year Earnings

Business Administration



Dental Hygiene



Registered Nurse



Emergency Medical Tech.




General Education :

To support equal opportunity to all degree advancement, a secondary focus for this pilot will be general education courses, which support high-enrollment areas. General education courses are base courses integrated with degree pathways throughout the state including certificate, associate, and bachelor degree programs. General education courses also align with the high-enrollment dual-enrollment courses.

Table 2. Dual-enrollment, high-enrollment General Education courses in Florida.


Course Title



Honors Freshman English I



Honors Freshman English II



College Algebra



Introduction to Psychology



College Success



Elementary Statistics



American Federal Government



Intermediate Algebra



United States History II



United States History I




This focus targets the largest overall number of Florida students, key factors to note with this demographic data are: over half of Florida students are female, non-white, full-time, enroll in classroom settings, and attend a four-year institute; approximately half receive federal assistance, are under 21, and live in other housing (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 2018). Against the national trend, Florida saw a 5% increase in first-time college students from 2004 to 2014 (College Board, 2018). Florida also ranks in the top five among the nation in 2015 data for two-year public college full-time equivalent (FTE) attendance at 53% (College Board 2018). High enrollment consideration alone would have led to the selection of different target discipline areas. Florida data indicates that while Associate in Arts and Bachelor of Arts, specifically in psychology, represent the highest number of degrees issued, students who receive these degrees have lower initial potential earnings than students who obtain Associate in Science degrees, designed to prepare students for the workforce (Economic Security Report 2017):

Table 3. Based on Number of Postsecondary Academic Credentials Awarded and Median First-Year Earnings and Level of Public Assistance, by Credential



% Public Assistance

First-year Median

College Credit Certificate












Bachelor’s Degree (FCS)




Bachelor’s Degree (SUS)





The target areas chosen directly align with target population demonstrated here, as the main focus of the program will be degree pathways and general education. Use of OER addresses potential achievement gaps because of access. This is supported by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) which stated, “A major contributing factor to the disparities continues to be the lack of appropriate instructional materials. One effective solution becoming widespread nationally is the use of open educational resources (OER)” (2018). Equal access and treatment strategies that will be employed include the following: blind review process for applications and OER; fair and equal access to participation; ADA compliance; addressing barriers; and reporting measures for violations.

Incorporating OER efforts into systematic approaches and habitual rhythms will increase the likelihood that they will remain beyond this project timeframe. Increased numbers of individuals, including the participants of OPEN FL, who are confident in their application and advocacy of OER will not only sustain but grow these efforts. The state community can continue to rely on the state structure and developed materials, such as collaboration event and activity plans, standard project workflows, and templates. A solid base of OER content and spotlight examples of implementation in Florida will give institutions and individuals reasons to continue and expand their implementations. Each year OER resources are retained in the course, student savings will continue to soar. Tying these savings to prominent locations will greatly increase the pressure to continue use of OER. The results of these efforts will be used to solicit sustainable funding for OER. In addition, print on demand will be explored as a sustainable funding option.

Alignment with FL Governor's CTE 2030 Goal

Degrees picked for this project emphasize career and technical education and were pulled from the State of Florida’s existing 2+2 and Industry Programs.   The program focus presented would build on State of Florida degree completion efforts, including high school dual enrollment, transfer credits, general education, and certificate to degree pathways.

What is the Community Working on?

The primary goal of OPEN FL is to provide and promote quality and affordable access to Florida higher education by creating a consortium of Florida colleges and universities to collaborate on developing, implementing, and providing discovery to open educational resources (OER) throughout high impact degree pathways. Secondary, central efforts will 1) facilitate systematic identification and updates of OER, 2) address barriers to adoption, 3) support OER programs and implementation efforts, and 4) lay the foundation for a sustainable OER state network. Coordinating OER efforts across Florida public institutions of higher education enables us to curate, modify, develop, review, and disseminate OER that meet quality, accessibility, licensing, technical, and student learning outcomes (SLO) in a unified structure that allows for inclusion and growth. The sustainable goal will be to create an OER community and infrastructure that perpetuates OER development, proliferation, and research through the state.

Accomplishments by the community:

  • Over 800 Open Educational Resources identified by the statewide Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) icon through the Florida Open Academic Library

  • Approximately 100 Open Education Network trained trainers for the Faculty Workshop across the state
  • Statewide Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) icon
    • Included in state catalog Florida Shines; highlight your ZTC courses today!
    • State legislation includes ZTC in local system with student access
  • Shared State strategies and resources, within this guide
  • Developed FL Copyright Guide
  • Hosted many presentations and events, including annual OER Summit and Fall/Spring webinars. 
  • Defined open as a spectrum
  • Developed the OER Review Standards and Approval Rubric: United States Edition

Discover FL OER Content and Curated Collections

Discover and explore select collections of Open Educational Resources (OER) through the Florida Open Academic Library: