Z Initiative


The Z Initiative at WCET is focused on reducing the cost of higher education and improving student outcomes through the implementation of open educational resources (OER). Unique in the OER community, WCET works with the regional compacts (WICHE, NEBHE, MHEC, SREB), state agencies and higher education systems to conduct research, design grant programs and initiatives, and provide guidance on regional and statewide OER policy and project implementation. The Z Initiative (Z refers to “ Zero Cost ”) brings together OER leaders, champions, legislators, state higher education systems, and educational technologists with the goal of sharing, developing, and promoting best practices and policies on the adoption, implementation, scalability, and sustainability of OER and zero-cost curricula. The Z Initiative directly advised the work of Colorado’s OER Council (2019 WOW Award Winners), Washington, North Dakota, Idaho, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact OER Initiative, and the New England Board of Higher Education. Dr. Spilovoy, Director of Open Policy is actively working with other regional compacts and states to assist them in creating programs to increase the use of OER.


  • Affordability of higher education is a growing issue for students and policy makers are finally taking notice. Textbook costs have emerged as a major contributing factor.
  • The College Board estimates the cost of books and supplies to be $1,250 at four-year public institutions and $1,390 at two-year public institutions.
  • Textbook retail prices have risen 88% over the last decade – faster than tuition and fees.
  • Recent studies have found this has a negative impact on students. Two out of every three students report that they skip buying some of their required materials because of costs.

The Solution

Working collaboratively, institutions, systems, and states can implement change more efficiently than working on their own. The WCET Z Initiative will increase cooperation, reduce duplication of effort, and scale the implementations more quickly than would happen with each entity working in isolation. Through access to experts and by joining the network of others seeking to implement OER Courses and Z Degrees, the WCET Z Squad provides:

Types of Events:

  • Research Reports, Resources, and News
  • Email lists-Discussion Opportunities
  • Implementation Advice
  • Discussions with OER champions
  • Face-to-Face meetings
  • Training Webcasts
  • Monthly calls for the membership coordinators
  • Consulting services

How to Join?

Tanya Spilovoy at the WCET Z Initiative will be happy to answer any questions.