Aishah Abdullah (SPARC) | Volume 166 | December 16, 2022
THE OER DIGEST – YEAR IN REVIEW
Your bi-weekly newsletter for open education updates, opportunities, and reminders
2022 YEAR IN REVIEW: It’s been another eventful and impactful year for the open education community. There has been important legislation, celebration of anniversaries, significant milestones shown in data, and continued resilience highlighted across our community. As this year comes to an end, we reflect on some of the big stories of 2022.
OPEN EDUCATION POLICY: The U.S. federal government continued its support for OER by awarding $11 million to Open Textbook Pilot program projects. Meanwhile, lawmakers in Congress reintroduced the Affordable College Textbook Act (H.R.7040/S.3818), which would permanently authorize a federal open textbook grant program in addition to strengthening federal textbook price disclosure requirements. Numerous states passed legislation relating to OER, including updates to course marking requirements in Florida and transparency requirements for “inclusive access” fees in West Virginia.
CELEBRATING ANNIVERSARIES: This year marked a number of important anniversaries in the open education community. OpenStax and Open Textbook Library celebrated their 10-year anniversary. In addition, Creative Commons and ISKME celebrated 20 years. These milestone anniversaries highlight the growth in the availability of course materials and the continued work put in by the community.
SURVEY SAYS: The latest report by Bay View Analytics found that OER continues to grow in both awareness and adoption. According to a survey of U.S. faculty, 67% say that they are at least somewhat aware of OER, a number that has more than doubled since 2014-15. The results also show that 22% or 1 in 5 faculty use OER as a required material in at least one course, a number that has jumped significantly since 2019-20. Meanwhile, a student survey released by Florida Virtual Campus highlights that while textbook spending has declined—thanks at least in part to OER—many challenges remain. Students reported that the cost of textbooks caused them to take fewer courses (~2 in 5), earn a poor grade in a course (~1 in 3), or drop a course (~1 in 5).
ILLUSTRATING IMPACT: Numerous OER initiatives released reports this year highlighting their impact on students. The Iowa Open Education Action Team published a report documenting $4 million in student savings, and Open Oregon Educational Resources found that the state’s investment in textbook affordability lowered costs for students in general education pathways. The Midwest Higher Education Compact released a report examining best practices and principles for understanding cost savings and return on investment for OER. Based on a survey of 17 states and systems, the average estimated savings per student for courses using OER was $116.
OPEN ACCESS TO RESEARCH: The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued new guidance that will make taxpayer-funded research available to the public, eliminating the current 12-month waiting period for access to research outputs, including articles and data. “When research is widely available to other researchers and the public, it can save lives, provide policymakers with the tools to make critical decisions, and drive more equitable outcomes across every sector of society,” said Dr. Alondra Nelson, head of OSTP. Public access to articles, data, and other research outputs expands the number of resources openly available to the public.
Conferences, jobs, and other OER-related opportunities
OPENED23 FORMAT SURVEY: The Open Education Conference Board of Directors is seeking input from the community regarding whether to organize OpenEd23 as an in-person/virtual hybrid event. As we explore the possibility of moving back in person, we are committed to working with the community to maintain robust virtual participation.
JOB POSTING: University of California Santa Barbara is hiring an Open Access Collections Strategist. You can learn more and apply here.
JOB POSTING: If you are ready to lead students, faculty, and staff to new possibilities an open library can offer, Excelsior University is hiring a new library team focused on open education. There are four positions available and you can apply here.
APPLY NOW: You can help improve the content on Wikipedia this spring by running a Wikipedia assignment. Visit teach.wikiedu.org to find out more about this free pedagogical opportunity. The deadline to run a Wikipedia assignment for the next term is December 16.
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
Quick snapshots of those making change on the ground level, and those impacted
FROM VIRGINIA: A Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Libraries program, The Open and Affordable Course Content Initiative, provides support to faculty to help them identify, customize or create free alternatives to expensive course materials. With over 75% of Virginia college students worrying about the cost of textbooks, this initiative has had a huge impact on the student population. Over the past 5 years, more than 77,000 VCU students have saved $7.2 million. The librarians have put in immense work to make this happen but Jessica Kirschner, OER Librarian, shares how faculty have also stepped up. “One of the things that’s been most exciting to me since coming to VCU is just the interest from faculty. We’ve had a record number of applications for our grant program over the past two years, which blew me out of the water.” Read More >>
FROM OREGON: Oregon Tech faculty are partnering with Oregon Tech Library’s Open Educational Resources program to reduce student costs associated with textbook materials. Their partnership and commitment have saved students the past three years over $1 million in textbook costs. University Librarian, John Schoppert, shares how, “Fifty-five percent of Oregon Tech students are unable to meet college expenses, so addressing textbook affordability is critical to student success and retention.” This has made textbook affordability a high priority given the number of students impacted. Read More >>
FROM NEBRASKA: The University of Nebraska has saved students over $13 million in textbook costs. This has been made possible due to the push for more affordable digital course materials. “Open Nebraska”, a policy on all four University of Nebraska campuses, reduces textbook costs for students. Ted Carter, NU System President, shared his goal for Open Nebraska: to save $10 million for students by the 2023-2024 school year which has already been surpassed. Read More >>
HOT OFF THE PRESS
Each edition, we highlight an interesting, new, openly-licensed resource
The University of Minnesota is pleased to announce the publication of a new open textbook: Critical Perspectives on Technology and the Family by Susan K. Walker. As information and communications technology (ICT) evolve, families and the professionals who work with them are best armed with tools that enable their intentional use. From the perspective of a long time family practitioner, researcher, and educator, and technology innovator, this textbook offers the first comprehensive view of technology in the family for college students, professionals and the public.
Great reads to repost or share and interesting discussions to consider
Great to Share >>
Boise State Librarian, Staff and Alumni present on OER at Conferences | Boise State News
OER Gives Students the Opportunity to Reclaim Their Education | Michelson 20MM
Interesting to Consider >>
Open Education Can Achieve Equity | Mail & Guardian
The OER Digest is a public newsletter distributed to a broad group of stakeholders across the higher education community. Subscribe here.