OER Digest – September 21st, 2017

From Kaitlyn Vitez and Saman Azimi (USPIRG) | Volume 40 | September 21st, 2017

With updates from Ethan Senack, Manuela Ekowo, and Brady Yano


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

SECOND WORLD OER CONGRESS: Earlier this week, UNESCO and the Slovenian Ministry of Education, Science, and Sport brought together 550 registered participants from 111 countries for the 2nd World OER Congress. The event marked the 15th anniversary of the term “OER,” initially coined at a UNESCO meeting in 2002. Outputs from the Congress included the Ljubljana OER Action Plan, which presents 41 recommendations to mainstream OER in effort to achieve the 2030 UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal 4 on “quality and lifelong education.” Suggested actions include:

  • Provide capacity building for teachers, teacher trainers, learners, parents, educational policy makers, librarians and other stakeholders as needed to raise awareness on how OER can increase access to effective educational resources, improve learner outcomes and significantly reduce costs, and empower learners to become co-creators of knowledge.
  • Empower educators and learners to develop gender-sensitive, culturally and linguistically relevant OER appropriate to local cultures and to create local language OER, particularly languages which are less used, under-resourced and endangered as well as indigenous languages.
  • Support for public investments in bandwidth infrastructure to provide increased access to mobile learning, particularly for rural and remote communities.
  • Develop national and institutional standards, benchmarks and related criteria for the quality assurance of OER.

CAPE TOWN +10: In recognition of the 10 year anniversary of the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, Centrum Cyfrowe, Educadigital Institute, and SPARC co-organized a satellite event at the 2nd World OER Congress which explored 10 directions to move open education forward for the next decade. Featuring speakers from around the world, this session also included the launch of a new community resource building on the Cape Town Open Education Declaration. Catch up on the conversation at #CPT10.

NEW RESEARCH: Babson Survey Research Group released a new report, entitled “What We Teach,” on K-12 curriculum choices and the extent to which OER factor into those choices. Some key findings from the report, which surveyed a national sample of over 500 K-12 decision makers, include:

  • Awareness and adoption of specific OER materials is higher than awareness of the term itself; two-thirds of all districts are aware of at least one open full-course curriculum alternative and over a third have actively considered at least one, while one-third of districts are aware of both the term “OER” and its licensing.
  • Open licensed full-course curricula materials have been adopted by 16% of all districts.

HILL BRIEFING: Achieving the Dream held a congressional briefing earlier this month on the performance and lessons learned from their first year of OER degree grants. Speakers included the presidents of the Odessa College and Bunker Hill Community College, two of the 37 grant recipients. A copy of the report can be found here.

OPENSTAX EXPANDS: OpenStax, based at Rice University, is working with Open University’s UK Open Textbooks program to bring free OpenStax’s textbooks to the UK. “International expansion is an exciting and intuitive next step for us,” said OpenStax managing director, Daniel Williamson. OpenStax also announced a partnership with Katalyst Education to bring OER to Poland.

PLATFORM LAUNCH: HP announced the the launch of the new HP School Cloud featuring the HP Open Learning Platform, aimed at providing access to educational materials for students, teachers, and adult learners in rural and poor communities around the world to support the company’s commitment to improving learning outcomes for 100 million people by 2025. The platform will leverage a range of free resources from OpenStax, with more OER partners to be announced soon.

OPEN DATA NEWS: The Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act passed the Senate this week. The bill, which is part of the National Defense Authorization Act and thus expected to be passed by the House and signed into law, would require all federal agencies to publish their information in open, machine-readable formats.


Conferences, jobs, and other OER-related opportunities

EVENT: Join CCCOER for a webinar Wednesday, September 27th 2pm EST to hear from librarians and faculty who are working together to support the selection and adoption of high-quality OER. Register for the webinar here.

EVENT: The Rebus Community and Open Textbook Network are hosting their September Office Hour event on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in OER. The call will be taking place on September 26th at 12pm EST. Click here to RSVP.  

EVENT: The Lumen Learning team is holding regular weekday office hours from 4:30-5:30 EST for anyone that needs help with Lumen Candela and Waymaker courses and Open Educational Resources (OER). Click here to learn more.

EVENT: Registration is open for the Open Educational Global Conference 2018 in Delft, The Netherlands, on April 24-26, 2018. Learn more, register, and submit a proposal here.

JOB: Forsyth Tech Community College in Winston-Salem, NC is looking for an OER Research Fellow (part-time) to assist with resource management, data collection, and tracking. This position is grant-funded and will remain open until filled.

JOB: Reading Area Community College in Reading, PA is seeking an Instructional Technology Specialist to provide Learning Management System support, assistance in use of educational technology, and training to staff and faculty, both full and part time.Review of applications began in August but the position is still open.

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 ARKANSAS: “It is a point of pride that UA Cossatot was the very first college in the state to offer this type of [OER] program for students,” said Chancellor Steve Cole. Read more >>>

FROM UTAH: “I had a student who was like ‘I’m living out of my car. I can’t buy a textbook.’ You’re so happy that they’re there and they’re trying to better their lives. You want to remove every financial burden from their lives you can possibly remove. I think we’re ahead of the pack on that, moving more and more to open educational resources where we can,” said Brenda Gardner, associate professor of math at Salt Lake Community College. Read more >>>

FROM MICHIGAN: The UM Flint “Textbook Affordability Initiative” is now in its second year as a pilot project. This fall, five math courses will use free OpenStax digital textbooks. It is anticipated that about 900 students will enroll in these five courses, and they will save an average of $200 per student in avoided textbook costs. Read more >>>


World OER Congress @OERcongress

Discover the Ljubljana Action Plan 2017 here: ow.ly/9TjJ30fjZLA #SDG4 #OER #Education


Interesting Reads Relating to Education and Open

A New Way to Learn Economics | the New Yorker


The Dilemma of Fair Use and Expressive Machine Learning | Intellectual Property Watch


College Textbooks are Going the Way of Netflix | Quartz


Teachers Can Now Use IBM’s Watson to Search for Free Lesson Plans | EdSurge


A Question of Marginal Utility | Harvard Crimson


Students are Opting Out of Purchasing Textbooks Because of Cost | EducationDIVE


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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