From Ethan Senack | Volume 80 | May 2nd, 2019
THE OER DIGEST
Your bi-weekly newsletter for open education updates, opportunities, and reminders
MERGER ANNOUNCED: Yesterday morning, Cengage and McGraw-Hill announced their intent to merge, combining the #2 and #3 largest textbook publishers into a $3 billion dollar company controlling over 44,000 titles. The move is planned for 2020, and will be pending approval by regulators. Advocates for students and consumers have expressed significant concern about the impact on pricing and choice in the industry, especially as it relates to inclusive access and online homework platforms. You can read more coverage of it here:
- MarketWatch: McGraw-Hill and Cengage are merging — is that good or bad news for textbook prices?
- Yahoo Finance: ‘The textbook market is broken’ and the latest mega-merger makes it worse
- Chronicle of Higher Ed: Planned Merger of Cengage and McGraw-Hill Could Remake College-Textbook Market
BC GOES BIG:The provincial government in British Columbia announced a $3.26 million commitment to open educational resources at the Cascadia Open Education Summit last month. The money is allocated not just for open textbook adoption and creation, but also for the development of an open homework management system to reduce dependency on the closed models big publishers are pushing.
ARIZONA CONTROVERSY: Tensions around textbook prices are high at Arizona State University, where a professor published an email revealing what he claims is “unethical behavior” on the part of his economics department. The letter alleges that the university is requiring students to pay to submit homework assignments via Cengage’s MindTap – a fact the university does not dispute – that they required him to fail a significant percentage of his students, and that they were motivated by financial kickbacks to the school. The university vehemently refuted the professor’s claims, but has since been forced to walk back some of their statements after a leaked contract revealed a revenue-sharing agreement for the development and adoption of the courseware. The Student Government has since called for an independent investigation into the process, and the university accepted.
SPARC ANALYSIS: A new landscape analysis from SPARC cautions that academic publishers are shifting their business model beyond content toward data and data analytics. The report looks at the implications for academic institutions, particularly around privacy, data management, and control over teaching, learning and research infrastructure. The report is especially relevant given the recent announcement from Cengage and McGraw-Hill and the ASU controversy.
TRENDS SNAPSHOT: The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) released an analysis of trends in instructional materials at the K12 level. The papers finds that that 38 states have an official definition of instructional materials, and 21 states have an official definition of OER.
CC SEARCH: Creative Commons revealed the revamped CC Search tool, which now includes over 300 million images for 19 different repositories, and an easy attribution feature to make re-use even simpler. You can read more about it here or try the search for yourself: https://search.creativecommons.org/
Conferences, jobs, and other OER-related opportunities
JOURNAL PROPOSALS: The upcoming edition of the Library Trends journal is focusing on “OER and the Academic Library”. You can submit a proposal here, due by May 15th.
APPLY: The Open Education Group is accepting applications for their OER Research Fellowship. You can submit yours here, due May 15th.
APPLY: The SPARC Open Education Leadership Program is accepting applications for their 2019-2020 cohort, due by May 10th. The program is for library professionals at U.S. and Canadian institutions.
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
Quick snapshots of those making change on the ground level, and those impacted
FROM LOUISIANA: “But the problem won’t be fixed by what these large publishing companies are offering. The nature of the textbook industry allows several multinational publishing companies to completely dominate the market. Instead of completely relying on publisher-sponsored materials, there instead needs to be a complete reshaping of the market in the direction of Open Educational Resources.” Read More >
FROM TEXAS: “Moving toward open access instructional materials brings several benefits. It allows for flexibility and quick adaptation of materials to align with the rapidly evolving nature of the field, current events, and updated tools with which students must be familiar upon graduation. I also believe that course quality will be higher with a more hands-on and cyclical approach to curation among our faculty.” Read More >
HOT OFF THE PRESS
Each edition, we’ll highlight an interesting, new, openly-licensed resource
Match Fishtank, a charter school in Boston, released their K-12 curriculum under an open license this week. The content prioritizes cultural relevance, and you can read more about their scores on EdReports here, or check out the content for yourself: https://www.matchfishtank.org/
Interesting Discussions and Strategic Reads to Repost or Share
Great to Share >>
- Traditional Textbooks Make No Difference in Your Child’s Learning. Let’s Change the Model. | El Paso Herald Post
Interesting to Consider >>
- Open at Scale: Creating Affordable Student Resources in Targeted Subject Areas | eCampus Ontario
- College Textbook Affordability: Landscape, Evidence, and Policy Directions | MHEC
- Harrisburg leads open educational resources innovation in geology courses | PennState
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.