From Cailyn Nagle and Kaitlyn Vitez (PIRG) | Volume 110 | July 16th, 2020
With updates from Hailey Babb
THE OER DIGEST
Your bi-weekly newsletter for open education updates, opportunities, and reminders
NEW SURVEY: Bay View Analytics (formerly the Babson Survey Research Group) has released their latest report on OER adoption in K-12 settings. OER curriculum represents a small portion of all K-12 recent adoptions, at slightly over 5%. Those who select OER view the overall quality as slightly better than commercial alternatives, and considerably better on multiple specific aspects of teaching and learning, such as extending the core knowledge to novel tasks and situations, and collaborating with others. This study was conducted prior to the closures of U.S. schools brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020, and the resulting education landscape is bound to have an impact on districts’ plans, including the curricula they choose. However, the key findings of the survey – and the impact that OER can have on teaching and learning – remain true, and reflect the growing support for OER across the education continuum.
FEDERAL UPDATE: Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives proposed their education budget for the 2021 fiscal year. Of the $73.5 billion allocated for the Department of Education, $7 million is designated to continue the Open Textbook Pilot program, supporting the creation and adoption of quality open textbooks in higher education. This matches the funding from the previous fiscal year. While the timeline for passage of the bill in the House and its consideration in the Senate is uncertain, this is an important procedural step toward renewing the program for a fourth year. The Department of Education is expected to publish a call for applications for the current round of funding sometime this summer.
REGIONAL UPDATE: The Council of Atlantic University Libraries (representing academic research libraries from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland & Labrador, and New Brunswick) has announced an initial investment by the Council into the creation of a free, online publishing and hosting platform for regionally developed OER for post-secondary students. The pilot program will focus on training educators to create or adapt OER as well as providing financial support to educators in the form of grants to cover any costs involved in creation or adaptation.
Conferences, jobs, and other OER-related opportunities
CALL FOR PROPOSALS: The Creative Commons Global Summit is accepting proposals. The event will be virtual and free of cost, taking place October 19-24. Proposals are due, tomorrow, July 17th. Learn more and submit your proposal here.
APPLY NOW: Open Oregon Educational Resources seeks a researcher to work on a contract basis to conduct research on the impact of the Equity and Open Education Faculty Cohort Model. Please submit your proposal by July 31, 2020, to firstname.lastname@example.org
APPLY NOW: The Texas Education Agency is filling two open education related positions in Austin. The first is an Open Education Resources Project Lead funded through September 2022, learn more and apply here. The second position is for a Quality Review and Adoption Lead, find out more and apply here.
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
Quick snapshots of those making change on the ground level, and those impacted
FROM KENTUCKY: For the fifth year in a row, University of Kentucky has issued grants to faculty to develop open educational resources for their courses. Over the course of the program they have saved close to 9,000 students over $1.4 million. Participants saw benefits beyond savings, as well. “Having relied on my open source textbook has made my current start into the online teaching world due to COVID so much easier,” said previous grant recipient Regina Hannermann. Read more >>
FROM BRITISH COLUMBIA: Thompson Rivers University is the latest BC campus to win a grant supporting a zero textbook cost pathway for their Associate Science Degree. The department has been expanding their use of open textbooks for several terms before taking this step. Physics instructor, Jennifer Kirkey said ,“most of what I teach is based on classical mechanics based on Newton’s four-hundred-year-old laws— information that is in the public domain… biology and astronomy often change much faster than the standard commercial textbook can be produced. This is where the ability to adapt OER truly proves its worth. The OER movement is much more than just free textbooks.” Read more >>
FROM MASSACHUSETTS: University of Massachusetts Lowell’s library has been working for years to bring down textbook costs through open textbooks and low cost digital books using a combination of education around alternatives, a new textbook ordering system, and library support. Faculty participate for reasons ranging from savings to flexibility to student success. “I love that students have it on the first day of class,” said Professor Yahayra Michel. “Getting the material to them on day one increases their probability of succeeding. That’s worth spending some time to go through that textbook selection process.” Read more >>
HOT OFF THE PRESS
Each edition, we highlight an interesting, new, openly-licensed resource
From Portland State University comes “Climate Toolkit: A Resource Manual for Science and Action” by Dr. Frank Granshaw. This unique climate textbook is designed with interactive online elements to help students not only understand the causes of climate change but also formulate their own perspective. The five sections of the book span from the basics of weather and climate to mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Great reads to repost or share and interesting discussions to consider
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The OER Digest is a public newsletter distributed to a broad group of stakeholders across the higher education community. Subscribe here.