OER Digest – January 25th, 2018

From Saman Azimi and Kaitlyn Vitez, U.S. PIRG | Volume 49 | January 25th, 2018

With updates from Nicole Allen, Cheryl Cuillier, and Katie Steen


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

OPEN 101: U.S. PIRG released a new report titled “Open 101: An Action Plan for Affordable Textbooks,” The report investigates the cost of course materials in the ten highest-enrollment courses in the country, zeroing in on how bundled materials prevent students from finding low-cost alternatives. The report also provides a comparison of course materials used for those ten courses across criteria such as availability unbundled, retention, and the cost for new and used books. Key findings include:

  • Of the access code bundles (text + access code) examined in the report, 45% were unavailable from any source besides the campus bookstore, forcing students to pay full price. For courses using textbooks only, students could cut costs as much as 58% by buying online.

  • Schools that have invested in OER generated significant savings for students, e.g. at Greenfield Community College, where three of six courses investigated used OER, students spent as little as $31 per course versus a national average of $153 per course.

  • If the ten highest-enrollment courses nationally switched to using OER, students save up to $1.5 billion each year.

TOP OF THE CLASS: EdReports, an independent education nonprofit that reviews K-12 curricula on a set of three criteria – alignment to Common Core standards, academic rigor, and usability – gave its highest ever rating to Open Up Resources’ Illustrative Mathematics 6-8. The curriculum, which is fully OER, was the only one of fifty-four math curricula reviewed by EdReports to earn a designation of “meets expectations” in all three criteria.

STATE POLICY: SPARC and Creative Commons USA released a pair of companion documents examining state policy on OER and offering recommendations and analysis for lawmakers and advocates:

  • SPARC’s OER State Policy Playbook provides a framework of ideas that state legislators can pursue to harness the power of OER to reduce the cost of college for students. The playbook suggests several policy strategies, like establishing a grant program, assembling a statewide task force, issuing a savings challenge, and requiring course designations, and provides real life examples.

  • Creative Commons USA’s OER State Legislative Guide looks at seven examples of state legislation supporting OER, each representing a different perspective and legislative language. The guide annotates the bills to highlight strengths, areas for improvement, and unique tactics.

OER IN OR: A new report from Open Oregon Educational Resources covering the cost savings community college students have seen in the two years since Oregon established an OER initiative found that students in three transfer degree programs spent 16% less in 2017 than 2015, for over $1 million in savings. The report also found that the number of hours working at minimum wage it would take to cover materials costs has fallen by ~25% across all three degrees because of lower prices and higher wages.

HBD CAPE TOWN DECLARATION: Happy 10th Anniversary to the Cape Town Open Education Declaration! To celebrate, a small group of open education advocates met in Cape Town in March 2017 to discuss the accomplishments and challenges in the movement over the last decade. At the meeting, advocates identified ten key directions to move open education forward. Check out the conversation on twitter at #CPT10.



Upcoming Events, Proposal and Registration Deadlines, Report-Backs

REGISTER: OpenStax is hosting its first Creator Fest for biology, physics, math, and chemistry instructors in Houston, TX from April 5th-6th. Register here: OpenStax.org/OXCFRegister

REGISTER: The Puget Sound Educational Service District is hosting a summit on the state of OER in K-12 in Washington at their office in Renton, WA on March 26th. Register here: https://s01.123signup.com/servlet/SignUpMember?

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Participate in Open Education Week (March 5-9) by submitting an event you’re hosting or an open resource to be featured on the OEW website. Submit by February 25th here: https://www.openeducationweek.org/page/call-for-participation



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

FROM PENNSYLVANIA:  A committee being formed by provost Patricia Beeson is expected to explore options, including a student-developed idea calling for expanded use by faculty of these lower-cost materials, and creation by Pitt of grants and other incentives for professors willing to participate. Read More >

FROM INDIANA: The four-week course will focus on finding educational materials that are both high quality and reviewed, highlighting those available through IU South Bend or IU-subscriptions. “We will also learn about copyright considerations and, finally, creating new, homegrown OERs here at IUSB. Faculty and instructors taking the redesign institute will identify and integrate alternative materials into existing or future courses,” states the syllabus for the course. Read More >



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

From Steven W. Ellingson of Virginia Tech comes a beta of Electromagnetics Volume 1 (CC BY-SA 4.0). The text, which is intended for third-year undergraduates in an electrical engineering program, employs the “transition lines first” approach and is currently being field tested in a Spring 2018 course.



Interesting Discussions and Strategic Reads to Repost or Share

Great to Share >>

5 Ways to Get Started with OER | eSchool News


Interesting to Consider >>

Amazon’s Education Hub, Amazon Inspire, Has Quietly Restored “Sharing” Function | EdSurge


Administrators Consider Teachers’ Professional Learning Needs Using Digital, OER Resources | Education Dive


This 1 Particular Area of Ed Tech is Ripe for Disruption | Entrepreneur


Opinion: It’s Time to Rid Ourselves of the Textbook Industrial Complex | Collegiate Times


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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