OER Digest – October 5th, 2017

From Ethan Senack, Creative Commons USA | Volume 41 | October 5th, 2017

With updates from Manuela Ekowo, Katie Steen and Brady Yano


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

TIME FLIES! This past week marks the two-year anniversary of the OER Digest. What started as a project to reduce time spent on conference calls has grown significantly since then. Today, we provide news and updates for hundreds of advocates and educators around the country, and we’re the primary source of OER news for more than a quarter of our readers. That’s why – to better serve our community – we asked for your feedback, and we’ve made some small changes. But don’t worry! The principle remains the same: we’ll keep things short, focused, and useful.

TEXTBOOK ACT IS BACK: On September 26th, bicameral and now bi-partisan legislation to support the creation and adoption of OER was introduced in Congress by Senators Durbin (D-IL), Franken (D-MN), and King (I-ME), and by Representatives Polis (D-CO) and Sinema (D-AZ). This is the fifth iteration of the bill, which creates a grant program at the U.S. Department of Education for colleges and universities to develop pilot programs that use OER to reduce the cost of textbooks for students. While the bill does not have a strong chance of passing by itself, it does create groundwork for OER to be included in reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

  • Update: Congressmen Curbelo (FL) and Nolan (MN), as well as Senator Reed (RI) recently co-sponsored the bills.

OPEN GOVERNMENT: On Friday, September 29th, the White House Office of Management and Budget hosted a workshop with civil society on the 4th Open Government Partnership U.S. National Action Plan. The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative to promote transparency, accountability, public participation, and technology and innovation in governance. A number of advocates submitted commitments on open data, open science, and open education, which have been included in previous National Action Plans. The 4th NAP will be published this month.

BIG MONEY: OER racked up some big dollar savings in the higher education arena this week, as the state of RI announced it had saved students $870,000 on textbooks in just one year, Santa Fe College announced $1 million in student savings from almost 300 course sections using OER, and the University of North Dakota announced $3.7 million in savings over the last two years of their OER program.

OER REACH INCARCERATED YOUTH: Two tech companies are launching an initiative using open-source technology and open educational resources to provide incarcerated youth the opportunity to continue learning and building re-entry skills. The initiative will be piloted in 5 states – Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Florida and Utah – and organizers say they’re hoping to “dispel the myths, and shine a light on the value of digital literacy in rehabilitating young offenders.”

SCHOOLOGY REPORT: A new survey of nearly 3,000 K-12 educators from LMS-provider Schoology attempts in investigate barriers to digital learning in the classroom. Lack of teacher time to incorporate technology into materials and inadequate access to devices for students topped the list, followed quickly by ineffective professional development.

  • Also in the survey: 95% of educators said that digital learning has positive impacts on students. 90% reported using ‘static’ digital resources like PDFs, and only 37% reported using OER by name.

GLOBAL RECOGNITION: The CU Boulder OER project, known as the PhET Interactive Simulations was recognized with a 2017 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) Award. This prestigious international award highlights innovative educational projects that address challenges and bring transformative societal change. Since its inception, PhET has been used more than 80 million times a year by students and teachers across the educational spectrum.


Upcoming Events, Proposal and Registration Deadlines, Report-Backs

NEXT WEEK: is OpenEd 2017, and the full Digest team will be in attendance. We’ll be putting together a special video edition from Anaheim, so if you’re interested in having your organization/project featured, please email us at oerdigest@gmail.com!

DEADLINE: The call for proposals for the Open Education Global 2018 Conference closes on October 23rd.  https://conference.oeconsortium.org/2018/call-for-proposals/

REGISTER: Enrollment is now open for the David Wiley/George Siemens EdX MOOC on OER. https://www.edx.org/course/introduction-open-education-utarlingtonx-link-oex

REPORTING BACK: Cable Green shares his thoughts and takeaways from the 2nd World OER Congress. https://creativecommons.org/2017/10/02/2nd-world-oer-congress-2017-ljubljana-oer-action-plan/



Quick snapshots of those making change on the ground level, and those impacted

FROM ALABAMA: “Smith, a junior economics major, stressed the importance of adopting [an OER] program… “I think the rising price of textbooks hurts a lot of students’ ability to gain knowledge… and it restricts the free flow of knowledge that college is supposed to foster,” Smith said. “There’s this broken economic model. It’s not consumers and producers; there’s this third external party, so there’s not any competition.” Read More >

FROM MICHIGAN: “Bay College will hold its second “Free the Textbooks OER Rally” on Tuesday, October 17, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., in the Student Success Center (the “HUB”). The event, featuring free food, soft drinks, and prizes, is being held to bring awareness and energy to Bay College’s open educational resources (OER) degree initiative.” Read More >

FROM NEW BRUNSWICK: “It’s an issue that is not going unnoticed by the UNB Student Union. In an effort to raise awareness on the issue of the high textbook costs, the UNBSU is moving forward with a textbook pricing campaign. According to Bempah, the Student Union wants UNB to “explicitly support open education resources—and to promise that they’re going to work on it and to ensure that it becomes a reality here at UNB.” Read more >


Each edition, we’ll highlight an interesting, new, openly-licensed resource

The Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges just released Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology – an open access, peer-reviewed cultural anthropology textbook. See the story of how it was created, and check out the resource here: http://perspectives.americananthro.org/



Interesting Discussions and Strategic Reads to Repost or Share

Great to Share >>

Top districts use savings from OER curriculum to invest in professional learning | Education Dive http://www.educationdive.com/news/administrators-consider-teachers-professional-learning-needs-in-using-digi/504588/

Interesting to Consider >>

How Machine Learning Is Easing OER Pain Points | Campus Technology


How a $14 Billion Industry Robs Students and Professors | NDSU Spectrum


Elsevier launches free science definitions service | Times Higher Education


How do you choose an open educational resource? | Education Dive


Leading Curriculum Reform Efforts Using Open Educational Resources | New America


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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