From Kaitlyn Vitez and Cailyn Nagle (USPIRG) | Volume 102 | March 19th, 2020
THE OER DIGEST
Your bi-weekly newsletter for open education updates, opportunities, and reminders
#COVID19: As nearly all institutions of higher education and many K-12 districts shut down in response to the threat of coronavirus, remote work has become the new normal. CCCOER and TechKnowTools have started crowdsourced, comprehensive listings of helpful resources, and New America and EDUCAUSE have published resource roundups. We also want to share some of our favorite links for planning, reading, and supporting our communities:
- Readings to catch up on: Achieving the Dream OER Initiative final report, U.S. PIRG automatic textbook billing report, the Bay View Analytics (formerly Babson) report, SPARC roadmap for action
- Transition to online learning: guides from Canvas, tips from OpenStax, fair use guidelines for higher education from library copyright experts, OER Commons K-12 remote learning hub.
- Toolkits and planning resources: OpenOregon “Getting Started with Open,” SPARC’s Connect OER, U.S. PIRG student organizing toolkit
- Resources for students: University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins study tips for online students, USPIRG blog on how institutions are meeting basic needs
Here at PIRG, we’re also working to protect public health and ensure that there are enough test kits to identify and treat our sick neighbors.
Wishing you good health,
– Kaitlyn & Cailyn, on behalf of the OER Digest Team
MERGER UPDATE: The proposed merger between Cengage and McGraw-Hill is hitting road bumps both in the US and abroad. The merger would consolidate two of the three textbook publishers that control 80% of the market. Representatives David Cicilline (D-RI) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) sent a letter on March 10th to the antitrust division of the Department of Justice sharing their concerns for a further consolidated market, including the rise of “inclusive access” automatic billing. Across the Atlantic, the proposed merger is facing mounting concerns from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority who are moving the merger to a second phase of investigation. The regulatory agency cited concerns that it “may be the case that this merger has resulted or may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition.”
STUDENTS SUE: Students from New Jersey have filed a class action lawsuit against Cengage, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and campus bookstores chains. The plaintiff alleges that automatic billing models violate antitrust laws, and amount to a “conspiracy” that eliminates cheap alternatives for students. Publishers say they are prepared to “defend vigorously” their billing program.
NEW REPORT: Bay View Analytics, formerly the Babson Survey Research Group, released their survey on attitudes and knowledge of open textbooks among faculty. The report shows knowledge of open textbooks among faculty has reached over the fifty percent mark for the first time, and that faculty using open materials rate them to the same level of quality as commercial materials. The report also cites automatic billing as a potential hazard for expanding the adoption of open materials. Read takes on the results by Inside Higher Ed and SPARC.
Conferences, jobs, and other OER-related opportunities
REGISTER NOW: Registration is still open for the 2020 Southern California Fifth Annual #GoOpen Summit on April 2. This event will take place online. Deadline to register is March 28, 2020. Register Here
REGISTER NOW: OpenStax Creator Fest has been moved online and will continue. The event is scheduled for March 24th-27th and participants will have the opportunity to attend virtual workshops and create open educational resources at this free hack-a-thon style event. Register Here
JOB OPPORTUNITY: Walla Walla Community College has an opening for a tenure track librarian. Learn more and apply for the position here.
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
Quick snapshots of those making change on the ground level, and those impacted
OREGON: Mount Hood Community College’s Textbook Affordability Team celebrated Open Education Week with a series of events targeting educating students about open textbooks. The college has already saved students over $2 since 2017 yet open textbooks have low name recognition among the student body. Events included open forums, webinars, and a faculty panel. Read more >>
WEST VIRGINIA: Marshall University Student Government’s Affordable Educational Materials Committee led by Tabby Collins is continuing the work of previous student government administrations. The committee is promoting a mix of open materials, state legislation, and course reserves. Collins explained focusing on textbooks is a feasible way to reduce the cost burden [of college] on students. “A student should never have to struggle through a class, drop a class, take fewer classes or not even register for a specific course simply because they cannot afford a textbook.” Read more >>
MARYLAND: The Maryland legislature is considering a bill requiring marking classes that use free or low cost materials in the course catalogue making them easier to find. The Maryland Student Government Association’s director of government affairs, Samay Kindra, said that the bipartisan bill is a direct result of advocacy from students to the legislature. Read more >>
CALIFORNIA: Open education week has come and gone but the ripple effects are still spreading. The Claremont College Library hosted a series of educational events during OE Week including tables at dining halls where students could shared their experiences, Read more >>
HOT OFF THE PRESS
Each edition, we highlight an interesting, new, openly-licensed resource
Michigan State University’s Melanie Cooper and Michael Klymkowsky released CLUE: Chemistry, Life, the Universe and Everything. This introductory chemistry textbook works to move students from reciting to understanding and applying foundational ideas of the subject.
Great reads to repost or share and interesting discussions to consider
Great to Share >>
Interesting to Consider >>
- Covid19 could kill the for-profit science publishing model. That would be a good thing. | LA Times
- Your Suddenly Online Class Could Actually Be a Relief | Inside Higher Ed
The OER Digest is a public newsletter distributed to a broad group of stakeholders across the higher education community. Subscribe here.