OER Digest- October 4th, 2016

From Ethan Senack, Student PIRGs | Volume 16 | October 4th, 2016

With help from Brady Yano and Austin Beck


Your bi-weekly newsletter for open education updates, opportunities, and reminders

SMALL STATE, BIG ACTION: Last week, Rhode Island became the latest state to launch an effort to address rising textbook costs through the use of OER. Governor Gina Raimondo announced a challenge for the state’s higher education institutions to save students $5 million over 5 years through the use of OER. The Rhode Island Open Textbook Initiative includes support from 7 higher education institutions in the state. SPARC and the Open Textbook Network have both signed on as partners to support institutions as they work to meet the challenge through expanded OER adoption.

STAX OF CASH: The open textbook publisher OpenStax announced last week that more than 1.5 million students have used their free textbooks. The numbers? OpenStax founder Richard Baraniuk sums it up best: “More than 811,000 students are using our books this fall, which is a 106 percent increase over spring 2016, and the books are being used in over 4,500 courses at 2,688 universities, colleges and high schools.” The Rice-based publisher also announced that they expect students using their books to save a collective $70 million in the ‘16-’17 school year.  

NEW ENGLAND GOES OPEN: School leaders across the New England region went to Amazon’s Boston offices to attend the #GoOpen summit hosted by North Reading Public Schools on Sept. 23rd. They had a jam-packed day as they networked and learned about the #GoOpen campaign, the basics of OER, implementing OER in classrooms, and scaling OER across the district. OER community leaders led many of the sessions, and participants had the chance to meet with many different education vendors. Kristina Peters and Andrew Marcinek, current and former #GoOpen leaders at the Department of Education, also spoke.

RUTGERS GETS ROLLING: The new Open and Affordable Textbook Project at Rutgers University in New Jersey launched this week, with a goal of saving students $500,000 in its first year. $1,000 grants will be made available to 12 different groups at the three main Rutgers campuses and Biomedical branch, and more than 100 faculty have already expressed interest in the program. Librarians and students are leading the charge.

FULLERTON CONTROVERSY RESURFACES: OER advocates may remember the controversy around CalState Fullerton Professor Alain Bourget last school year, when he assigned a cheaper textbook and OER to his class in place of the Department-required book and was reprimanded by the university. Last week, the Orange County Weekly looks at the fallout in a feature-length story on Professor Bourget and the Cal State Fullerton Math Department and where they are now.

ACCESS MATTERS: A new study suggests a link between funding for K-12 textbooks and student performance. Conducted by a researcher at the American Institutes for Research, found that students at California schools with additional funding for textbooks tend to perform better on state reading and math tests than those at schools with less textbook funding. The study points to textbook shortages caused by lack of adequate funding in an era when prices are rising rapidly. These findings reinforce the opportunity to leverage OER to provide better materials to all students at a lower cost, and thereby reduce inequities caused by access to materials.

B.C. STRATEGIZES: BCcampus hosted an Open Education Strategy Forum this week, bringing together leaders from B.C. post-secondary institutions to engage in conversations about strategic approaches to integrate Open Education practices to improve quality of education.


Conferences, jobs, and other OER-related opportunities

DEADLINE: The Call for Proposals for the Open Education Global 2017 Conference closes this month. Submissions are due Oct. 17th. http://conference.oeconsortium.org/2017/call-for-proposals/

EVENT: International Open Access Week is coming up later this month, October 24-30. Events are happening around the world http://www.openaccessweek.org 

EVENT: The 13th Annual OpenEd conference is next month, November 2-4. http://openedconference.org/2016/

EVENT: RSVP now to attend OpenCon Live, the live webcast of OpenCon 2016 this November 12-14. http://www.opencon2016.org/live

JOB: The Open Education Consortium is looking for a Communications Manager. This is a part-time position and the closing date is October 10, 2016. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_ZlUxiBMhzFPR4j3pq_EPfl0y2sEykPu1R2A7DX1ZPk/edi


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


FROM BRITISH COLUMBIA: “Carson Varney’s responsibilities include a two-year-old son, with another child expected soon, and rent payments, all while attending Camosun College. It makes the $600 to $1,000 he saves in a year through British Columbia’s Open Textbook Project that much more important.” Read more>

FROM OKLAHOMA: “We can’t, as an academic institution, afford to have students foregoing access to information simply because a company has to turn a profit,” said Cody Taylor, an emerging technologies librarian who helps with the project. “OER is important because of the students who would otherwise, without it, go without access to that information. It’s just something we can’t afford to see happen.” Read more>


Rhode Island Governor @GinaRaimondo, Sep 27: You might have $1,200+ of books in your $40 backpack. This initiative will put $5 million back in students’ pockets http://bit.ly/2cIiaE0


Interesting Reads on Education and Open

The U of O should prioritize open textbooks | The Fulcrum


From Silos to Sharing: Why Are OER Still So Hard to Find? | EdSurge


Curriki Debuts New Tools to Help Teachers Find Open Resources | T.H.E. Journal


Pressing the Reset Button on OER | Education Week


Have suggestions for the next edition?

Let us know at oerdigest@gmail.com, or tweet us @OERdigest.

You can subscribe to the OER Digest here.

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