New federal education fund makes available $2 billion to create OER resources in community colleges

Timothy Vollmer

The Department of Labor and the Department of Education today announced a new education fund that will grant $2 billion to create OER materials for career training programs in community colleges. According to Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT) will invest $2 billion over the next four years into grants that will “provide community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs.” The full program announcement (PDF) states that all the resources created using these funds must be released under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license:

In order to further the goal of career training and education and encourage innovation in the development of new learning materials, as a condition of the receipt of a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant (“Grant”), the Grantee will be required to license to the public (not including the Federal Government) all work created with the support of the grant (“Work”) under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (“License”). This License allows subsequent users to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the copyrighted work and requires such users to attribute the work in the manner specified by the Grantee. Notice of the License shall be affixed to the Work. For more information on this License, please visit

The program supports President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 by helping to increase the number of workers who attain degrees, certificates, and other industry-recognized credentials. The first round of funding will be $500 million over the next year. Applications to the solicitation are now open, and will be due April 21, 2011.

Cathy Casserly, incoming CEO of Creative Commons, said, “This exciting program signifies a massive leap forward in the sharing of education and training materials. Resources licensed under CC BY can be freely used, remixed, translated, and built upon, and will enable collaboration between states, organizations, and businesses to create high quality OER. This announcement also communicates a commitment to international sharing and cooperation, as the materials will be available to audiences worldwide via the CC license.”

Beth Noveck, professor of law and former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer and Director of the White House Open Government Initiative, said, “The decision to make the work product of $2 billion in federally funded grants free for others to reuse represents a historic step forward for open education. The Departments of Labor and Education are to be congratulated for adopting more open grantmaking practices to ensure that taxpayer money funds the widest possible distribution of this important job-training courseware.”

Congratulations to The Department of Labor, The Department of Education, and others involved in crafting this important, innovative program. Creative Commons is committed to leveraging this opportunity to create a multiplier effect for public dollars to be used on open, reuseable quality content.

Where new learning materials are created using grant funds, those materials must be made available under CC BY. However, it is not a requirement that all the TAACCCT grant funds be spent on the creation of learning materials. We’ve also updated the title of this post to reflect this clarification, which before read U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Education commit $2-billion to create open educational resources for community colleges and career training.

Second Addendum:
See our page about Creative Commons and TAACCCT for further information.

8 thoughts on “New federal education fund makes available $2 billion to create OER resources in community colleges”

  1. This is definitely a great move. The decision to use CC-BY license for learning materials will increase collaboration and ultimately the quality of and access to the leaning materials. CONGRATULATIONS!

  2. An Associates Degree in Humanities and Social Sciences, no matter how intelligent you are, counts for nothing if differently abled and over 25 years old in Maryland. Employers would rather hire those with no knowledge beyond high school>(insiders secret). Too little experience to work in a hospital laundry. Too much experience to work as a retail associate or, a mental health setting. Almost all entry level jobs want more experience. Even if a receptionist position or whatever, even if your employment record of working in a recently outdated occupation, is excellent, you remain unemployed. In many jobs management changes yearly so who can give a reference? Answer: no one.

  3. Way to go Creative Commons! I just sent this note to Washington’s Community and Technical Colleges:

    “This is VERY good news for our system (and is consistent with the SBCTC open policy) – as all 34 Colleges will have unrestricted, open access (legal rights to reuse, remix, revise and redistribute) to all $2 Billion worth of courses / programs produced with this grant.”

  4. Two billion is a lot of dough!

    Assuming the money is used wisely, this could be a better alternative for the first two years of college than going into debt just to attend a more prestigious university.

    I hope the program will result in meaningful opportunities for authentic learning. I look forward to seeing how this program develops.

  5. I’m very supportive of the program. However, it contains a fatal flaw in terms of achieving reusability. Reading the fine print of the solicitation you will find that the content format SCORM is required to be used. SCORM is a government controlled and regulated format from the Department of Defense that is way out of date for modern educational content. This program will be severely crippled with the requirement for SCORM. I’ve posted a long explanation of the problem and some of the alternatives that the education community have developed via IMS that should have been included in the solicitation on the IMS web site.

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