OER Digest – December 7th, 2017

From Saman Azimi and Kaitlyn Vitez, US PIRG | Volume 46 | December 7th, 2017

With updates from Ethan Senack, Katie Steen, and Nicole Allen


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

STUDENTS SPEAK UP: A new report details student impressions of courses that switched to OER at Reynolds Community College in Virginia. Hundreds of students across 11 courses participated. The data reveal that 74% of students surveyed found the OER content more engaging than a traditional textbook, and 21% specifically mentioned how open materials were more flexible and tailored to their class.

COURSE LABELLING: Four states – California, Texas, Washington and Oregon – as well as individual institutions across the country are requiring a logo or other indicator of cost in their course catalogues. Advocates, oppositions, and faculty weigh in on the challenges of getting their projects off the ground. They detail the technical challenges of posting the essential price information, as well as debating the threshold of affordability for students.

CENGAGE UNLIMITED: Cengage announced the release of a new subscription service that gives subscribers access to the entirety of Cengage’s digital portfolio for a set price. The Netflix-style service doesn’t include any OER, but represents another new model that OER advocates may encounter on campus. It is available at the cost of $119.99 for a semester’s access to more than 20,000 Cengage resources.

OTN GOING GLOBAL: The University of Southern Queensland became the first non-U.S. university to join the Open Textbook Network. The Open Textbook Network, based out of the University of Minnesota, maintains the Open Textbook Library and helps higher education institutions and systems advance the use of open textbooks and practices on their campuses. SQU is currently planning on developing Australian editions of Open Textbook Library resources.

OPEN CITATIONS: Scientometrics researchers are calling on scholarly publishers to provide open citation data in an open letter with more than 200 signatories. Proponents claim that citations, which the letter says “provide essential information for studying science and making decisions about the future of research,” should not be limited to scholars with access to expensive database subscriptions. The letter builds on the Initiative for Open Citations (I4OC), which aims to establish a global, public web of linked scholarly subscription data.

THE OA EFFECT: Research group Springer Nature released a report comparing the performance of open access and non-open access academic books, measured by usage, citations, and online mentions. Key findings, including that open access book see seven times more chapter downloads, 50% more citations, and ten times more online mentions than non-open access books, conclude that there are tangible benefits to publishing using open access models.

THE NEW KNEWTON: Knewton announced that it will be releasing its own line of online courseware in January. This marks a major pivot for the company, which gained publicity over the last year by marketing its services as offering artificial intelligence to help major textbook companies make their content more adaptive. The announcement places Knewton as a competitor to the major publishers, but the company claims that its mix of OER and adaptive learning will set it apart.

OPPORTUNITY: SPARC is seeking OER leaders to serve as mentors for its Open Education Leadership Program pilot. Learn more and sign up by December 11th here.


Upcoming Events, Proposal and Registration Deadlines, Report-Backs  

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Festival of Learning 2018 is accepting session proposals until December 11th. The theme this year is “Handle with Care” and proposals can be submitted here: https://bccampus.ca/festival-of-learning-2018/call-for-proposals/

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Submit proposals for the Southern Regional Faculty & Instructional Development Consortium’s Annual Conference, this year titled “Creative Connections: Teaching, Learning, Open Educational Resources,” due December 17th. http://srfidc.weebly.com/conference-information.html

CALL FOR PROPOSALS EXTENDED: The Utah OER Forum has extended the call for proposals until December 17th. Registration opens January 1st. http://oerutah.org/index.php/oer-forum/


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

FROM TEXAS: “In the process of complying with the state mandate to identify potential for low- and no-cost textbooks, we are demonstrating the value of partnerships between departmental faculty and subject librarians. Faculty have more control over what and how the material is covered, and the savings to students are estimated at greater than $600,000 per year. I think that’s a story worth shouting about!” Read More >

FROM NEW JERSEY: “I participated in the [Open and Affordable Textbook] project because of my belief that the university education now, more than ever, should not be restricted to textbooks in many cases. Students should browse and learn from available resources on the internet. With so much emphasis on research, this project sends the message that teaching/learning is still important.” Read More >


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

Professor Ellen C. Carillo of the University of Connecticut partnered with the University Press of Colorado and the Colorado State WAC Clearinghouse to release A Writer’s Guide to Mindful Reading. As part of the openly licensed “Practice and Pedagogy” series, it offers “a comprehensive approach to literacy instruction by focusing on reading and writing.”


Interesting Discussions and Strategic Reads to Repost or Share

Great to Share >>

Why Should Institutions Consider Publishing Open Access Textbooks | Jisc


Interesting to Consider >>

Exploring the Use of E-Textbooks in Higher Education | EDUCAUSE


Carlsbad Plan Would Put Technology in the Hands of Students | San Diego Union-Tribune


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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