From Bilan Jama (CC USA) | Volume 120 | January 7th, 2021
THE OER DIGEST
Your bi-weekly newsletter for open education updates, opportunities, and reminders
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
OPEN TEXTBOOK PILOT: Just before the end of the year, the U.S. Congress passed a comprehensive spending package that included renewal funding for the Open Textbook Pilot grant program for a fourth year! Congress matched last year’s investment with another $7 million, which will be awarded to higher education institutions for open textbook projects by September 30th. Under instructions from Congress, the Department of Education is expected to run a new competition following similar terms as the one run in 2020, including a 60 day application period and multiple awards. The renewal brings the total funding to $24 million for since 2018. Meanwhile, the Department has also completed its process for the previous round of funding and is expected to publicly announce the winners of the approximately $6 million in awards soon.
HIGHER EDUCATION COLLAB: State leaders, postsecondary education institutions, and education leaders are working across state lines to promote the adoption of OER to help millions of students access high-quality learning materials that are free to use, customize, and share. With renewed support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the four regional higher education compacts—the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)—will coordinate in a joint effort to provide policy leaders, institutional leaders, and researchers and practitioners with research and tools to support the use of these openly-licensed materials.
SIGNING OFF (from Digest co-author Mo Nyamweya): Hi everyone, and happy new year. As of the end of last month, I have transitioned out of my role as Open Education Coordinator at SPARC. This community is so vibrant and supportive, and I’m so thankful to have contributed my piece as OER Digest co-author. I’ll be working on applying to graduate school in 2021 and continuing to support the OER community and all the incredible work you do. Thanks for everything, and feel free to reach me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conferences, jobs, and other OER-related opportunities
CALL FOR PROPOSALS: The Open Language Resource Center (OLRC) and the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL) are seeking proposals for a joint online conference to be held on Saturday, March 6th, 2021. The deadline for proposal submission is Friday, January 15th, 2021.
CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Submit your proposals for the Cascadia Open Education Summit here. The deadline for proposal submission is Friday, January 15th, 2021.
REGISTER NOW: Registration is now open for the 2021 Arizona Regional OER Conference. January 29th is the kickoff date and the virtual conference will continue each Friday in February and ending on the first Friday in March (1/29/21 – 3/5/21).
CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Applications for the Spring 2021 Missouri Affordable and Open Educational Resources Symposium are now open. The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2021, and proposals can be submitted here.
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
Quick snapshots of those making change on the ground level, and those impacted
FROM PENNSYLVANIA: The state Department of Education (PDE), through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries (OCL), announced $500,000 in funding to support affordability and equity in higher education. These funds will be offered through a new OER Grant Program (OER) funded by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) established by the CARES Act of 2020. The grant program will provide a series of mini-grants and stipends to encourage and support faculty in creating, adapting, and adopting OER and other zero-cost materials in institutions of postsecondary and higher education across Pennsylvania. “Improving access to resources and materials for some students of the commonwealth is a step toward improving student success,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “The department is excited about the opportunity to award grants that will result in more affordable textbook options for students during a moment in time where financial relief is certainly welcomed and needed.” Read more >>
FROM TENNESSEE: Columbia State was awarded approximately $60,000 in funding for two Tennessee Board of Regents Digital Engagement Initiative OER grants. The new grant program will increase access to quality, low or no cost, and inclusive educational materials through innovative programs focused on providing OER. “We want to remove cost as a barrier for students. The idea is that we will have online materials that students will be able to access from the first day of class. They can also print out copies of the materials if they want hard copies. They won’t have to wait to purchase their textbooks,” said Judy Westley, Columbia State associate professor of English. The overall program goal is to increase success rates and improve educational outcomes for traditionally underserved students, such as students of color, first-generation college students and economically disadvantaged students. Read more >>
FROM WEST VIRGINIA: Students at West Virginia University at Parkersburg have saved $140,860 during the 2019 to 2020 academic year through the use of no-cost and OER in 38 courses, according to the school. “The benefit of creating and providing OER courses are shared among students, faculty, the college, parents and so many more,” said Dave Thompson, a professor and chairman of the WVU Parkersburg Humanities, Fine Arts and Social Sciences. “Easy access, low costs, diverse instruction methods and user-friendliness are a few of the most valuable features.” Read more >>
HOT OFF THE PRESS
Each edition, we highlight an interesting, new, openly-licensed resource
Dr. Yongyeon Cho from Iowa State University has recently published Tutorials of Visual Graphic Communication Programs for Interior Design. This book is for the beginning level of both architecture and interior design students who learn computer graphic communication software.
Great reads to repost or share and interesting discussions to consider
Great to Share >>
Five Federal Institutions with Free Education Materials | Department of Education Homeroom Blog
Interesting to Consider >>
Interrogating and Supplementing OER Through a Decolonized Lens | International Journal of Open Educational Resources Blog
Teaching | The Chronicle of Higher Education
The OER Digest is a public newsletter distributed to a broad group of stakeholders across the higher education community. Subscribe here.