[Open-education] The OER Digest - February 4, 2016

Ethan Senack esenack at pirg.org
Thu Feb 4 21:09:19 UTC 2016

By Ethan Senack, Student PIRGs | Volume 7 | February 4th, 2016

Your tip sheet for U.S. OER updates, opportunities, and reminders

*UPDATE FROM LABOR: *A new rule from the Dept of Labor that was 
announced on the eve of the new year will bring open licensing to 
intellectual property created under their competitive grants. Analysis 
<http://www.edcentral.org/oeratlabor/> by Lindsey Tepe at New America 
shows that the rule will likely impact around $300-400 million dollars 
in grants, once it's fully implemented. At the same time, the rule will 
hopefully add impetus to the Department of Education's proposed rule to 
require open licenses on products from some of their grants.

*NEW TEXTBOOKS REPORT:* Time for one quick, shameless plug. The Student 
PIRGs released a new report yesterday, titled "Covering the Cost 
<http://studentpirgs.org/reports/sp/covering-cost>." The report reveals 
the results of a 5,000 student survey regarding textbook prices and 
financial aid use. Key findings from the report include:

  * Almost one-third (30%) of students replied that they had used
    financial aid to pay for their textbooks.
  * For those that used financial aid, the amount of financial aid
    dollars they put toward purchasing textbooks was more than $300 on
    average per semester.
  * Textbook prices disproportionately impact community college
    students: 50% of students report using financial aid for books at
    community colleges, compared to 28% at 4 year public schools.

The report highlights the potential of OER and open textbooks to solve 
high textbook prices, and includes recommendations for decision-makers 
on campus and in the government. Students on a couple dozen college 
campuses held stand-up release events with local administrators, 
librarians, and faculty.

    SHARE IT: on Facebook
    <https://www.facebook.com/studentpirgs/posts/10153295989465143>, or
    on Twitter, via PIRG
    <https://twitter.com/HigherEdPIRG/status/694980129303445504> or
    Senator Durbin
    <https://twitter.com/SenatorDurbin/status/694962445014691840>. We're
    using #FreeTheTextbook <https://twitter.com/hashtag/freethetextbook>.

CREATIVE COMMONS STRATEGY:* CC announced their strategy 
for the next five years. They'll focus on building infrastructure that 
supports sharing, pushing back against an outdated copyright system, and 
strengthening access and usability of the commons. Expect more 
information about their Open education plans soon.

*CAMPUS ACTION!* While state and federal policy often get all the glory, 
individual campuses around the country are stepping up and taking action 
around OER. Our "Stories from the Field" section has reported on some of 
them, but let's recognize just a few of the big commitments campuses 
have made so far this year. This week, Rutgers University 
<http://nj1015.com/rutgers-pilot-program-targets-soaring-textbook-costs/> announced 
that it is funding a new OER initiative, and a bunch of other 
institutions made the news: the University of Connecticut 
for their leadership in a new statewide OER initiative, North Carolina 
for their Alt-Textbook program, even Grand Rapids Community College 
for their OpenStax partnership! That's just those who made the news - 
there are dozens of schools that are working to jump in on OER.

*OPENSTAX ANNOUNCEMENT:* Speaking of OER growth, open textbook publisher 
OpenStax recently announced 
that their books saved students $39 million in 2015. Their adoption 
tracking shows that their books are now in use at 1-in-5 degree granting 
institutions in the U.S.

*STAFFING CHANGES: *The state of Rhode Island has hired its first-ever 
Chief Information Officer - none other than former Department of 
Education Director of EdTech, Rich Culatta.

**It's Thursday, February 4th*. Ethan Senack here; I've been laser 
focused on finishing our latest textbooks this past month, and I'm 
excited to rejoin the rest of the world in February. Don't forget to 
send tips, updates, opportunities, and feedback to @HigherEdPIRG or 
esenack at pirg.org with the subject "OER DIGEST".

A brief snapshot of those making change on the ground level, and those 
most impacted

*VIDEO BREAK:* University of Northwestern – St. Paul, an Open Textbook 
Network member,  recently approved a strategic three-pronged approach 
involving the use of open textbooks in order to reduce instructional 
material costs for students.  To help give a voice to this approach, 
they created a brief video of their students talking about how textbook 
prices have impacted them and how--in the second half of the video--the 
use of an open textbook has helped them.  As a result of this high-level 
approval, University of Northwestern - St. Paul reports their first 
instances of faculty of large-enrollment courses choosing open. See the 
video here> <http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/r2oub>

*AND ONE MORE:* Students at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts 
made a mini-documentary about textbook affordability and open textbooks 
(featuring one of our staff!). See the video here> 

Want your story featured? Email it to esenack at pirg.org.

Quick, Interesting Reads

*5 key lessons learned through the B.C. Open Textbook Project *| BC campus

*Prof finds ways to keep textbook costs down* | Bloomington Pantagraph
**Creating an Infrastructure for Open Access *| Inside Higher Ed

*Amazon Planning to Open Hundreds of Stores? *| The Republic/AP

Ethan Senack
Higher Education Advocate
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
(202) 546-9707 x321

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