OER Digest – June 29th, 2017

From Ethan Senack (Creative Commons USA) | Volume 34 | June 29th, 2017

With updates from Katie Steen, Brady Yano, Jennifer Wolfe, Richard Sebastian, David Wiley, Nicole Finkbeiner, and Erika Aparaka



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


ACHIEVING THE DREAM: Achieving the Dream released preliminary results from its 38-campus OER Degree Initiative in the report Launching OER Degree Pathways: An Early Snapshot of Achieving the Dream’s OER Degree Initiative and Emerging Lessons. Per their press release, key findings include:

  • 84% of faculty members said that students in the new OER courses had the same or a higher level of engagement with the learning materials as compared to courses they have taught using traditional course materials.

  • More than 7 in 10 instructors say that they are very or somewhat likely to promote use of OER to colleagues.

  • Early research also indicates that students saved, on average, about $134 per course or between 5 to 22 percent of annual student textbook costs in those colleges (with caveats).

UNIV OF MISSOURI: Last week, the University of Missouri System (Digest author Katie Steen’s alma mater) announced an initiative to drive OER development on four campuses serving 77,000 students. A working group of students, faculty, and staff across the System will implement and oversee the initiative with input from stakeholders at each campus. UM System President Choi – formerly an OER champion as provost at the University of Connecticut (Digest author Ethan Senack’s alma mater) – will offer incentives ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to adapt and create OER.

STATE LEGISLATION: Texas SB810, which creates a state OER grant program, establishes protocols for OER course designations in course catalogs, and orders a statewide feasibility study – has been signed into law by the Governor. The Governor also signed a bill relating to use of OER in K-12 public schools. A substantial bill reorganizing community colleges in Florida that included a small provision around open textbooks was vetoed by the Governor. In Washington, their Governor signed legislation requiring schools to list textbook prices and inform students about OER use in classrooms during course registration.

ANNOUNCING: The Open Education Group – the interdisciplinary group of OER researchers – is launching a “Designing with OER” Fellow Programs with funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The DOER Fellows Program invites instructional designers to partner with subject matter experts to apply for grants, supporting the creation of renewable assignments based on the principles of OER-Enabled Pedagogy and designed to be used with specific open educational resources. For more information, join the DOER Network listserv.

SNAPSHOT: From the Learning Accelerator comes a new report – TLA Snapshot: A New Tool to Personalize Learning with Open Educational Resources: The Middletown Learning Path. In their words: “The prevalence of high-cost, low-quality, and often out-of-date textbooks is a problem across U.S. school districts. This Snapshot highlights one strong example of how a district in New York is solving this problem by creating a new tool to facilitate the use Open Educational Resources, by making it easy for educators to adopt materials approved for both quality and copyright.”

SCI-HUB: A US court ruled that the widely-used research-sharing site, Sci-Hub, violated US copyright law, and has awarded publishing giant Elsevier $15 million in damages. Owners of the site, which hosts over 62 million academic papers, said that they see more than 200,000 requests per day. Questions remain, however, on whether or not the ruling will impact the site, which has no assets in the US. 

OPENSTAX NEWS: On the heels of announcing their new list of OER Institutional Partners, OpenStax is now announcing that their 2016 Institutional Partners are expected to save students over $8 million in textbook costs. That announcement and the list of 2016 partners here, along with the list of their new 2017 partners.

Flashback: One interesting name on the list – Cal State Fullerton, which made headlines last year after a professor’s unapproved use of OER resulted in his censure. 

ALSO INTERESTING: Three of these topics (Sci-Hub, OpenStax’ Institutional Partnership Program, and Cal-State Fullerton) appeared together in the OER Digest on May 12th, 2016.



Conferences, jobs, and other OER-related opportunities

EVENTApply now to attend OpenCon Nov 11-13 in Berlin, Germany. Travel scholarships are available. OpenCon is the conference to empower the next generation to advance Open Access, Open Education and Open Data. 

EVENT: Registration for #OpenEd17 is now OPEN! The conference will be taking place Oct 11-13 in Anaheim, CA. Click here to register.

EVENT: Registration for the iNACOL Summit on October 23-25th closes in just over two weeks. Click here to register.

SUBSCRIBE: If you haven’t already – subscribe to the OER Digest here!



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

FROM WASHINGTON: “Stambaugh, a prime sponsor of Open Education Resource Legislation for the past three years said she is a fierce advocate of expanding open education resources. She said she has been communicating with Pierce College and other two- and four-year institutions to learn of their current open education resource options, how they are being implemented and where they can expand. “The first two years, the model that I used was based off the University of Massachusetts Amherst that funded faculty grants for them to develop open education resource,” she said about the bill she sponsored.” Read more >

FROM CALIFORNIA: “At COC, 75 percent of students stated that the cost of books and supplies are the top barrier to them achieving their educational goals, according to the agenda item. The college also found that 70 percent of students said the cost of textbooks and supplies influences their enrollment choices and 67 percent of students said they were concerned their grades would suffer if they do not buy textbooks.” Read more >



Barbara Illowsky‏ @DrBSI: See the latest research on how #OER help #students learn in this special issue of #IRRODL:http://bit.ly/2rJtskF  @johnhiltoniii @cccoer




Interesting Reads Relating to Education and Open

Collaborating to Scale OER | Inside Higher Ed


Free textbooks for first-year university students could help improve retention rate | The Conversation CA


Textbooks in the Digital World | The Conversation US


What Happened to Amazon Inspire, the Tech Giant’s Education Marketplace? | EdSurge


Districts Work to Close Digital Equity Gap | Ed Tech Magazine



Have suggestions for the next edition? Let us know at oerdigest@gmail.com, or tweet us @OERdigest.

The OER Digest is a public newsletter distributed to a broad group of stakeholders across the higher education community. You can join the open Google Group or check out the distribution list here.

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