From Ethan Senack, Creative Commons USA | Volume 71 | December 13th, 2018
THE OER DIGEST – YEAR IN REVIEW
A look back at the big updates from 2018
QUICK STATS: This year, the OER Digest team – seven different rotating authors from SPARC, U.S. PIRG, and Creative Commons USA – shared 24 editions, including 118 news updates, 50 stories from the field, and 116 interesting reads/articles. We also tried to count the number of different campuses mentioned in Digests this year, but it was WAY too many. There’s so much awesome work going on! We’re just grateful for your continued readership – and for getting us over 1,000 followers on Twitter.
GLOBAL FACING: Looking beyond North America, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Cape Town Declaration this year. OpenCon hosted a satellite event at the United Nations around how openness can help advance the global Sustainable Development Goals. The US reported back on their commitments to the international Open Government Partnership, finding that “#GoOpen and the Open Licensing Rule at the Department of Education substantially opened government with respect to access to information.” The report also concludes that “the #GoOpen campaign represents the clearest example of a change in government practice that has enhanced public access to educational information.”
FEDERAL: 2018 was a banner year for open education on the federal level.
- First and foremost, the FY18 federal budget included a landmark $5 million grant budget for OER adoption and development efforts – the result of nearly a decade of advocacy. The Department of Education chose to administer the funds as one single, large grant, awarded to LibreTexts, who plan to use the funds to expand its STEM open textbook library over the next three years, as well as develop more materials for career and technical education.
- Advocates won a second major legislative victory this year, with the inclusion of another $5 million for OER in the FY19 budget – this time requiring that the money be used for at least 20 different grants, and offer a longer application window. We will expect to bring you more news on the opportunity to apply for this funding in 2019.
- Congress also approved legislation reauthorizing the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which governs the nation’s career and technical education (CTE) framework. Included in the bill are provisions permitting OER as an allowable use of funds for state and local activities.
- The Department of Education’s open licensing requirement for competitive grants reached full swing this year, as we started to see the language pop up in new calls for proposals like this one.
- Finally, the Department’s #GoOpen campaign has continued to grow, reaching 118 districts and 20 states. They also announced a new partnership with ISKME to help manage the effort.
- In Canada, the national government just announced that all of the content created under their $50 million initiative to support local journalism will be made available under a Creative Commons license.
STATE: California, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia all considered or passed OER-related legislation (or took some other statewide action to support OER) this year. Some additional highlights from the states:
- New York invested another $8 million in open education through their SUNY and CUNY systems, a program that had already saved students $12 million and projected students savings of $28 million by the end of 2019.
- North Dakota’s state auditor found that their investment of $110,000 in OER has saved students at least $1.1 million, ten times the amount spent – and possibly as much as $2.4 million. This was the first independent audit of a state OER initiative.
- Colorado established a statewide OER Council and appropriated $660,000 for OER grants and activities. Notably, the council is required to include a student and the state librarian!
OTHER MAJOR MILESTONES: OpenStax announced that their books are in use at half of all American colleges and universities. Creative Commons’ annual report found that there are now at least 1.4 billion CC-licensed works available worldwide. Open Up Resources won top billing for their Illustrative Mathematics and ELA curriculum from EdReports, earning the highest ratings ever given by the nonprofit reviewer. BCcampus just announced they’ve broken the $10 million savings mark. Also – after their challenge for the community back in 2018, Nicole Allen and David Wiley announced at OpenEd this year that we’ve collectively saved students over $1 billion through OER.
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
Quick snapshots of those making change on the ground level, and those impacted
FROM ARKANSAS: “The program was created in 2015 with the sole purpose of removing barriers to education for students. Forty percent of classes at UA Cossatot do not require a textbook and instead use OER materials to supplement instruction. For the remaining 60 percent of courses, students pay a $30 rental fee per course to rent required books.” Read More >
FROM LOUISIANA: “It definitely helps — every little bit,” said Kreston Phelps who is seeking an electrical degree at CLTCC. “With this program, every little bit I can save, thank the Lord I can save it, because every little bit of money I can put back towards food or gas for my traveling expenses.” Read More >
FROM MASSACHUSETTS: “Now a sophomore and a student senator, Woods is a passionate advocate for OER — and she is not alone. The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education recently launched a working group to make recommendations related to expanding OER. The state distributed nearly $500,000 in grants to schools experimenting with the material.” Read More >
HOT OFF THE PRESS
Each edition, we’ll highlight an interesting, new, openly-licensed resource
The Pacific University of Oregon is out with OER: A Field Guide for Academic Librarians, which they say is intended “to act as a guide writ large for would-be champions of OER, that anyone—called to action by the example set by our chapter authors—might serve as guides themselves.”
Interesting Discussions and Strategic Reads to Repost or Share
Great to Share >>
Open access textbooks help save students money, keep them in class, officials say | Grand Forks Herald
Interesting to Consider >>
A Barnes & Noble Experience | Open Oregon
Reflecting on 2018, and (Tentatively) Projecting the Future | Inside Higher Ed
Five Top Technology Trends in Special Education | Center for Digital Education
Shifting Focus of Publishers Signals Tough Times for Textbook Authors | Inside Higher Ed
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.