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Project Background and History

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    While teaching real estate courses at Victor Valley College (VVC) in 2019, Regina Pierce-Brown observed students who struggled, dropped out, or failed challenging beginning courses such as Real Estate Principles and Real Estate Practice. She observed that some students, while initially motivated, began the class underprepared (needing writing skills, insufficient funds to purchase the textbook, and lacking study habits), while others began with false expectations driven by entertainment media and social media (getting licensed is easy and they can make plenty of money quickly in the real estate field).

    In searching for pedagogical resources and more effective teaching methods, while fueled by the 2020 pandemic’s forced switch to remote classes, Regina started developing a solution to bridge the academic gap for her students. Students found that mandatory, basic real estate courses were quite challenging due to the new concepts, vocabulary words, and extensive use of legal terminology. Preparing her students, Regina likened the courses to learning an entirely new language and culture.

    Originated during the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-2020, the idea for a new introductory course began to materialize into a proposal. Between December 2020 and January 2021, Regina had compiled an outline and the basic semblance of a curriculum for “Real Estate Career Introduction”. She entered the new proposed course into Meta / Curriqunet at VVC in January of 2021 and pushed the “launch” button on February 2, 2021. The new course proposal for BRE-99 wound its way through the curriculum committee process; was edited to “Introduction to Real Estate Careers”; emerged, approved by the California State Office of Instruction on January 22, 2022; and approved for implementation at VVC two days later.

    In addition to bridging the knowledge gap by easing students into the career field gradually, the course aimed to prepare students in other important areas that would bolster student success, both in the classroom and overall retention and persistence rates. One important skill needed for student success is a study schedule. Students also need to know where to find resources. In preparing for a job, they need to learn communication skills, write their résumés, and practice interviewing. These are some of the crucial topics covered in the course.

    It should be noted that a suitable textbook covering all important topics was not available for this course. Although a printed book was utilized for the first few modules, the instructor would need to rely upon a wide variety of existing OER content; which, at times, did not particularly suit the modules. It was during this process of researching course materials the seed was planted to eventually write a textbook covering all course content.

    Trish Ellerson, Ph.D., the department dean at VVC, supported this new course and approved its addition to the Fall 2022 class schedule. Woo-hoo! We were off and running. Regina developed an entire Canvas site, complete with content, activities, resources, and quizzes, and taught the class face-to-face during the Fall 2022 term. In the Spring 2023 term, due to the number of holidays that interfered with the face-to-face schedule, Regina taught in a hybrid format (alternating weeks face-to-face and remote via Zoom). Although designed as a face-to-face course, in order to reach those students most in need of instructor guidance, the hybrid modality allowed students to still be engaged and participative.

    BRE-99, “Introduction to Real Estate Careers”, was listed as a suggested prep course for both Principles and Practice. Introduction to Real Estate Careers has been offered at VVC twice per year (every fall and spring) since it was first added to the schedule.

    As the instructor, Regina’s observations of student success in the new course included students continuing to develop an interest in their career paths, and practicing good study habits that allow them to be successful in future real estate courses. In addition, this class created an opportunity to interact with the instructor and develop a positive routine of completing assignments prior to enrolling in more challenging courses.

    Due to VVC’s status as an accredited institution, the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) has accepted “Introduction to Real Estate Careers” as an elective course (the third required course to qualify for the real estate salesperson exam). This department approval has assisted students in gaining necessary skills and knowledge while also fulfilling the licensing requirements.

    In November 2022, Regina received an opportunity from ASCCC forwarded from Yvonne Reed, Librarian at VVC and resident OER expert, to apply for a grant to write an OER textbook. Regina attended the training sessions (consisting of a series of classes and plenty of resources) from December 2022 through January 2023 led by Suzanne Wakim and Shagun Kaur representing the Academic Senate for California Community College (ASCCC) OERI project.

    Upon completion of the training program, Regina was invited to send a proposal to the grant committee for approval. Regina researched, organized, calculated, assembled a large author team, and prepared the proposal for OER “Real Estate Career Introduction”, which was submitted February 2023. Unfortunately, the committee had limited funds and did not select this project to move forward. The disappointing rejection notice was received on March 8th; however, that denial was not the end of the project, but would prove to be the clearance for a new beginning.

    Emily Maynard, director of California Community College Real Estate Education Center (CCCREEC – pronounced “creek”), reached out to Regina in May of 2023 with good news: the possibility of moving forward with the OER project under a grant from CCCREEC. Regina dusted off the OER project and revised the tasks, calculations, and time frames. The revised proposal was submitted in June 2023 and, with Emily’s support, it was accepted by CCCREEC partner, South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD) in July.

    This time, only four other authors stepped forward (or were volunteered, LOL) to embark on this new textbook project. Each team member brought unique perspectives and highly qualified skills to the table. Barbara Cox, a long-time faculty member and published author, brought her “eagle eye” editing, proofreading, and savvy writing expertise. Alana Gates is a licensed real estate salesperson, faculty at several colleges, department chair at Santiago Canyon College, and was recently selected as CCCREEC’s “Real Estate Educator of the Year”. Crystal Barry, licensed real estate broker and faculty member at Victor Valley College, proved to be a wonderful writer and also brought her artistic expertise: creating the OER’s images, illustrations, slide decks, and photography. Joe Chavez, licensed and experienced real estate salesperson with a full-time government career, brought his knowledge of public careers as well as faculty perspective from teaching real estate at both VVC and Cal State San Bernardino. Regina Pierce-Brown, real estate broker and full-time faculty at VVC, served as the lead author and project manager.

    The OER project was organized by modules and tasks, which the authors volunteered to complete. Even though not funded by OERI, the author team watched their videos, participated in their training, and followed many of their procedures and industry standards. Team members worked hard individually, also meeting several times per month and participating in other working meetings as needed.

    Steady progress was made weekly and in February 2024, three more experts with specific skills were brought into the project. Julia Wendt, faculty, author, and editor of previous OER textbooks, produced and formatted the LibreTexts content. Kevin Hall, real estate salesperson and retired office manager, brought his 20 years of teaching experience at Palomar College and other colleges, and reviewed the content from a student perspective. Stacy Rollstin-Weiland, library faculty at both VVC and Citrus College, took on the responsibility of ensuring the references were included in APA format.

    The author team was invited to give a presentation at the semi-annual CCCREEC conference in April 2024 to real estate faculty participants in California. The presentation included slides documenting the benefits of OER and its positive effects on student success rates. Faculty express curiosity and interest in offering the OER course and accompanying textbook at their respective institutions.

    In May, three peer reviewers volunteered to evaluate the content in the OER format online. Once their feedback (along with author feedback) was incorporated, the project was finalized and submitted to SOCCCD and CCCREEC for final approval on May 31st. The author team will continue to upgrade the product and support faculty members who adopt the textbook and/or course at their institutions

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