From Kaitlyn Vitez, Cailyn Nagle, and Andrew Husson (USPIRG) | Volume 90 | September 19th, 2019
With updates from Lana Hall, Erin Fields, and Susan Higgins
THE OER DIGEST
Your bi-weekly newsletter for open education updates, opportunities, and reminders
FEDERAL UPDATE: Efforts to renew the U.S. federal Open Textbook Pilot continue to march forward in Congress. After the House approved a bill including $5 million of renewal funding in June, this week the Senate released a proposed bill that would increase funding to $6 million and attach additional instructions for the Department of Education to improve the program’s implementation. Meanwhile, Congress has also announced plans to delay the deadline for passing the federal budget to the end of November, so there is still a long way to go before the bills are finalized and passed into law. For frequently asked questions and background on the Pilot, read more here.
OPENSTAX MILESTONE: The open publisher has reached a new milestone: they estimate that nearly 3 million students will use an OpenStax book this school year. In the coming year, students are expected to save a quarter of a billion dollars, with 90% of them accessing the materials digitally for free. “Until a few years ago the college textbook bubble had seen sustained growth — textbook prices had risen 800% over 50 years,” said Mark Perry, a scholar at The American Enterprise Institute and professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan. “In 2017, there was a market-wide drop in textbook prices, and I believe that free alternatives like OpenStax books are central to that disruption.”
NEW RESEARCH: A new report titled “A Place for Policy: The Role of Policy in Supporting Open Educational Resources and Practices at Ontario’s Colleges and Universities” examines the benefits, barriers, and OER policies in North America. The report lays out the benefits of using a policy model and how policies directly answer the barriers to implementing and expanding open educational materials and practices.
BIG OER INVESTMENT: University of British Columbia launched a new OER Fund with a commitment from their Office of the Provost of $250,000 for the four years of the program. The funds will be used to create two grant pathways, a smaller grant for innovative activities and a larger grant for incorporating OER as required materials in credit courses. The program is prioritizing large freshman and sophomore classes as well as multi section courses and the creation of quiz and test banks.
NEW AUTHOR: Hello! I’m Andrew Husson, and I’m excited to be joining the OER Digest team as an intern with U.S. PIRG. I’m a rising senior studying economics at George Washington University in DC, and I’ve spent the last summer working with PIRG to do citizen outreach on our campaigns to protect consumers and ban harmful pesticides. I don’t have Twitter, but you can follow along as I partner with GW’s @GelmanLibrary and @GWStudents_ to expand the use of OER on my campus this semester!
Conferences, jobs, and other OER-related opportunities
RESERVE NOW: Hotels are selling out quickly for the annual OpenEd Conference taking place in Phoenix, AZ at the end of October. Conference organizers have secured discounted rates at additional hotels, so make your reservations now before prices go up.
CALL FOR PROPOSALS: University of San Diego’s Seventh Annual Digital Initiatives Symposium, happening on April 27-28, 2020, is now accepting proposals for the full day conference with a submission deadline of November 22. The conference is especially looking for international perspectives from a wide variety of institutions. Learn more here.
CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Amigos Library Services online conference on December 4th is accepting proposals now until Sept 25th on the subject of “the Library’s role of supporting open educational resources.” Learn more and submit your proposal here.
REGISTER NOW: “OER Hangout: Creating OER with Students,” hosted by the University of Texas and faculty and staff from two other universities, is accepting registrations for their discussion based webinar. The webinar takes place Sept 25th and you can register here.
REGISTER NOW: The Open Education Consortium is hosting a webinar on Open Education Leadership October 1st covering the broad work they are doing internationally. Learn more and register here..
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
Quick snapshots of those making change on the ground level, and those impacted
FROM PENNSYLVANIA: Temple University officials estimate the faculty outreach effort, which began in 2011 and has gotten buy-in from nearly 90 of the university’s 3,850 full- and part-time professors, has saved students $1 million. Eight projects are underway via “North Broad Press,” including a book being written by the criminal justice department for its intro course. “The goal is to try to create as much open content as possible,” said Steven Bell, Temple’s associate university librarian. “This isn’t something that happens overnight. This is a long-term project, but we are seeing a revolution.” Read More >>
FROM DC: The number of courses included in the George Washington University course reserves program, which allows students to borrow materials from the library for up to three hours at a time, more than doubled – from 32 to 65 courses – at the beginning of the semester. Dean of Libraries and Academic Innovation Geneva Henry said the expansion will help alleviate the financial burden on students who are enrolled in classes that require them to buy or rent expensive textbooks. “Our end goal, however, is to bring down the costs of course materials through the use of open educational resources, including openly licensed textbooks.” Read More >>
FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE: “Our goal is not to get to 100% lower-cost or no-cost materials in every class … sometimes it’s not possible. But in those big gateway courses that everybody takes – Intro to Sociology, Computing 101, Psychology 101 – there’s no reason students should be spending $250 on a textbook,” said Jennifer Cournoyer, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at River Valley Community College in Claremont. “We… are not re-inventing the wheel at the point, so we are able to move pretty rapidly in this.” Read More >>
HOT OFF THE PRESS
Each edition, we highlight an interesting, new, openly-licensed resource
Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Mind surveys both historical and contemporary theories and debates around philosophy of mind to introduce first time readers to the field. The book covers dualism, functionalism, freedom of the will, and consciousness among other subjects, with each chapter written by different experts in that field. This is the first complete textbook from the new Rebus Community Introduction to Philosophy series, which will eventually include 9 introductory Philosophy textbooks in total.
Great reads to repost or share and interesting discussions to consider
Great to Share >>
College works to reduce student textbook costs l Cumberland Times-News
Interesting to Consider >>
Questioning the Textbook Rep Culture l Inside Higher Ed
Why college textbooks won’t get cheaper anytime soon l The Daily Trojan
Students should not have to pay for their homework | The Pine Log
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.