OER Digest – October 1st 2015

From Ethan Senack, Student PIRGs | Volume 1 | October 1st, 2o15

With help from Nicole Allen, Sarah Cohen, Meredith Jacob, and others

HELLO! Welcome to the inaugural edition of the OER DIGEST – your monthly tip sheet on everything open education. Want information faster? Sign up for the weekly update, or tell your friends and peers to do so: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/get-the-oer-weekly. It only takes two seconds, promise.

Your one-stop-shop for OER updates, opportunities, and reminders

DURBIN READIES TEXTBOOK BILL: Senator Durbin (D-IL) has informed advocates of the impending introduction of federal legislation supporting OER – likely next week. Although the bill doesn’t authorize new spending, it establishes a competitive grant program to allow universities to access funding for launching OER adoption programs at their campuses. The House companion bill will be introduced by Congressman Hinojosa (D-TX).

A LONG-AWAITED ALLY: During his “Ready for Success” bus tour, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan stopped at the tiny, 500-person town of Williamsfield, IL. Williamsfield’s school district recently decided to forego purchasing a new math textbook and used the money to build infrastructure for using OER instead. The impact has been stellar in such a small town – “The walls break down,” said their K-12 Principal. At the event, the Secretary announced the creation of a first-of-its-kind Advisor on Open Education in the Department. Kudos to all those who worked tirelessly to make that a reality.

MEETING OF THE MINDS: Earlier this week, the State Department organized an OER workshop in conjunction with the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. The meeting was designed to connect OER advocates, US policy staff, and diplomats from around the world. Participants discussed the barriers they face, unique ways OER is being used, and what the real-world impacts are for different countries.

STATE OF MASS. CONSIDERS ACTION: In an interview with the Gazette, UMass’ daily newspaper, MA Sen. Eileen M. Donoghue (Vice Chairwoman of the Higher Ed Committee) said she was interested in creating a MA digital library of open-source textbooks. Earlier this year, the Chair of the Higher Ed Committee, Senator Moore, introduced a bill that would take similar measures, met with a students and librarians from around the state, and held a public hearing for feedback on improvements to the bill.

It’s Thursday, October 1st. Ethan Senack here, dreading grocery store lines as people prepare for the landfall of Hurricane Joaquin. Don’t forget to send tips, stories, updates and opportunities to @HigherEdPIRG or esenack@pirg.org with the subject “OER WEEKLY”. Also, don’t forget to follow the OER advocacy coalition at @OER_USA.

A brief snapshot of those making change on the ground level, and those most impacted

IN TENNESSEE: The Tennessee School Board announced a partnership with Apple to launch the Tennessee Digital Learning Project – designed to save their schools money and deliver up-to-date content through OER. The School Board’s Director, on the project: “All of our jobs nowadays, everything is online and immediate and up to date. And that’s what we want for our kids. We want all of our kids in the state to be prepared, whether they’re going straight into the workforce or to college, to be able to utilize all resources out there because all of our workplaces use things digitally.” Read the article>

IN MARYLAND: A few weeks ago, University of Maryland University College announced that it would start a major transition to OER in place of traditional textbooks. UMUC’s President, Javier Miyares, speaks: “Today, the classroom is untethered by time and space…Let’s get rid of textbooks and instead ask what are the best open, freely available resources out there.” An immigrant himself, he’s sensitive to the cost barriers that many face: “For quite awhile there’s been a narrative out there that college has become very expensive. That has discouraged new immigrants and minorities to think college is not for them. We want to push back with another narrative: If you choose the right path, college can become not only affordable, but you can do it without debt.” Read the article>

IN COLORADO: Last week, the Open Textbook Network joined Colorado State University’s Morgan Library for a faculty workshop on open textbooks. 50 faculty in attendend – double the size of OTN training’s traditional number. The event was a prequel to their Open-tober events, when they will welcome Nicole Allen and David Wiley as keynote speakers. From Sarah Cohen, OTN Managing Director, “We’re proud to see this OTN member engaging their community in open in bold and dynamic ways!”

Have a story you’d like featured? Email it to esenack@pirg.org.


Education Week: “Ambitious Initiative Blends Adaptive Tech, Open Ed. Resources”

Inside Higher Ed: “A Textbook Market Strategy That Moves Beyond Professors”

Information Today: “Cengage Learning Acquires Learning Objects”

Sonoma State Star: “Textbook Act Aims to Relieve Debt”

TIME: “Is This the Solution to Crazy High Textbook Prices?”

Education Dive: “Why open educational resources aren’t catching on with some faculty”

One thought on “OER Digest – October 1st 2015

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