OER Digest – August 9th, 2018

From Ethan Senack, Creative Commons USA | Volume 63 | August 9th, 2018

With updates from Kendra Lake, Nicole Allen, and Mo Nyamweya


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


FEDERAL UPDATE: The formal call for proposals around the US Department of Education’s $5 million OER grant program was announced late last month. Applications are due August 29th. The Department stated their intent to only make 1-3 individual grants from the pool, requiring applications to be submitted by consortia, and seeking to prioritize “technology-based” strategies. OER champions in the Senate sent a letter raising concerns with the limited number of grants and requesting the strongly maintain open licensing requirements for all materials created through the grant.

  • Additional Reading: Lindsey Tepe and Sabia Prescott of New America have an in-depth analysis of the implementation process here >

GOING MAINSTREAM: The open textbook publisher OpenStax announced this month that their textbooks are in use at 48% of all US colleges, and at an additional 1,150 schools abroad. By their count, that totals around 2.2 million students, saving $177 million on textbook costs.

FROM INSIDE THE INDUSTRY: Continuing the recent trend of traditional publishers conducting studies that conclude textbook prices are too high, both VitalSource and Cengage are out with new research on the subject. Some findings include:

  • 85% percent of current and former students say that their textbook and course material expenses are financially stressful, more so than meals and food. – Cengage

  • 43% percent of students have taken out a loan; and 31 percent have taken fewer classes to save on textbooks costs. – Cengage

  • 85% of students admit they have either postponed buying required materials or chosen not to buy them at all, and almost all (92%) the students who delayed or skipped buying textbooks cited costs as the reason for their decision. – VitalSource


Conferences, jobs, and other OER-related opportunities

REGISTER: Michigan is hosting an OER Summit on September 21st, in Port Huron. Register here: http://www.mioersummit.org/

VOTE: There are a number of OER-focused panels up for consideration at next year’s SXSW, including “How Students Created the Open Education Movement”, “Making Open Educational Resources Work for You”, and “Scaling the OER Movement for Growth and Impact”. Create an account to vote on these sessions or other OER ones here: https://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote

REGISTER: Registration for Big Ideas Fest, this Nov 29 – Dec 1 in Washington, DC, is now open. Register here: http://www.bigideasfest.org/

JOB: The Open Textbook Network is hiring a Community Manager. See the description: z.umn.edu/communitymanager



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


FROM ARKANSAS: “I used an free, open, and online textbook in my Introduction to Sociology class this past semester, just as I have done for last five years,” commented Dr. Kelly Damphousse, chancellor. “My students have the option of purchasing a very inexpensive version of the book or to download the book, for free, to their phone or other device. I believe that these kinds of textbooks increase the likelihood of student success in the classroom.” Read More >

FROM NEW YORK: “Learning outcomes for a course should drive the instructions, not a commercial textbook. Sometimes even a free OER textbook does not entirely address the learning outcomes. I tell faculty that they may need chapters from several OER textbooks, supplemented with library resources, like e-books, journal articles and videos to create the new material.” Read More >



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


The Rebus Community released an updated version of “Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship” this month, edited by Michelle Ferrier and Elizabeth Mays. The new version includes a chapter on product management for media professionals, feedback from full-book peer reviewers, and more.



Interesting Discussions and Strategic Reads to Repost or Share

Great to Share >>

OER is at a tipping point. Here’s how to keep it moving in the right direction | EdScoop


Interesting to Consider >>

SETDA guide urges educators to focus on the process, not the purchase | EdScoop


Open Educational Resources Provider Talks About Shaking Up the K-12 Market  | EdWeek

(Login Req).


Thoughts on OER and Cost Savings | OpenContent


When It Comes To Free Textbooks… Who Pays? | Forbes


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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