[Open-education] OER Digest: Year in Review - December 20, 2019

OER Digest oerdigest at gmail.com
Fri Dec 20 15:10:04 UTC 2019


>From Mo Nyamweya | Volume 96 | December 20, 2019


A look back at the big updates from 2019

U.S. FEDERAL UPDATES: We’re closing out the year with great news
that Congress will renew and strengthen the federal Open Textbook Pilot
<https://www2.ed.gov/programs/otp/index.html>. This week, lawmakers
approved a broad bipartisan budget deal including $7 million in funding
for the program- a $2 million dollar increase from previous years. Earlier
this year, the previous round of Open Textbook Pilot grants were awarded to
Chippewa Valley Technical College and Arizona State University. While the
timeline for awarding the new $7 million may extend as far as December 31,
2020, advocates noted
improvements in this year’s program, including a “significant” number of
awards, a 60 day application period, and an opportunity for public comment.

STATE UPDATES: It’s been an outstanding year for OER state policy -
Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon,
Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia all passed legislation encouraging or
supporting the use of OER across K-12 and college courses. Some additional
highlights from the states:


   FROM ALABAMA: The Alabama Commission on Higher Education voted to
   increase funding for the state’s need-based financial aid program,
   prioritizing lower textbook costs for students through the use of OER. Read
   more >>

   FROM COLORADO: Earlier this year, Colorado began a funded statewide OER
   initiative. Building upon that, Governor Jared Polis recently launched a
   ZTC Challenge
   and will award top schools and departments for progress made by the end of
   the school year.

   FROM INDIANA: An Indianapolis-based foundation, the Lilly Endowment,
   awarded $520,000 to the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI)
   for their PALSave initiative, which will provide education and funding
   support to faculty at 24 Indiana colleges, universities, and seminaries to
   adopt, adapt, and create affordable learning materials.

   FROM MASSACHUSETTS: The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s
   OER Working Group released their recommendations
   on what a state OER initiative should look like. Among their
   recommendations are a council of stakeholders and staff housed in the
   department, a statewide grant program, course markings for OER, and
   consideration of OER for tenure and promotion.

   FROM TEXAS: The University of Texas at Arlington invested an impressive
   $500,000 to fund open educational resources this academic year, marking the
   largest award by a public academic institution in Texas specifically
   supporting OER initiatives.

CANADIAN UPDATES: In May, the provincial government in British Columbia
announced <https://www.ubyssey.ca/news/provincial-government-funds-oers/> a
$3.26 million commitment to open educational resources at the Cascadia Open
Education Summit. 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. Meanwhile,
University of British Columbia launched a new OER Fund
<http://open.ubc.ca/oer-fund> with a commitment from their Office of the
Provost of $250,000 for the four years of the program. Kwantlen Polytechnic
University also launched a full bachelor’s of arts degree in general studies
with no textbook costs. According to KPU, the program is the first of its
kind in North America.

K-12 UPDATES: The national #GoOpen summit
<https://goopen.us/national-goopen-summit/>, organized by the Go Open
Network <https://goopen.us/groups/>, took place in November, providing an
opportunity for district, state, and organization leaders to connect,
collaborate, and share strategies for engaging students and shifting
instructional practice through the implementation of OER in K-12
classrooms. Meanwhile, a study
from the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy at the
University of Delaware found that students using an OER curriculum in
English courses started to outperform the statewide average after 3 years.
Also. OpenSciEd <https://www.openscied.org/> announced that it would be
rolling out one of the first full, OER curricula
that aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards.

OPPOSING PUBLISHER MERGER: In May, textbook publishing giants Cengage and
McGraw-Hill announced their plans to merge
seeking to combine the #2 and #3 largest textbook publishers into a $3
billion company controlling over 44,000 titles. Numerous higher ed
organizations and advocacy groups have opposed the merger, claiming that it
would further reduce market competition, decentivize innovation, and
potentially raise textbook costs for students. U.S. PIRG sent in a letter
to the U.S. Department of Justice opposing the merger on behalf of more
than 40 student organizations, while SPARC submitted
<https://sparcopen.org/our-work/oppose-cengage-mcgraw-hill-merger/> a
detailed filing <https://osf.io/preprints/lissa/e3r6f/download> to the
Department also opposing the merger. Other organizations opposing the
merger include the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities
and the National Association of College Stores
The companies have indicated that they hope to move ahead with the merger
in early 2020, although the transaction is still pending approval by

INCLUSIVE ACCESS PUSHBACK: In South Carolina, a used textbook store sought
legal action
against Trident Technical College over their inclusive access policy.
Students at UNC successfully pushed back on the school’s plan to implement
an inclusive access program through Pearson, using grassroots efforts in
the form of petitions, faculty and librarian statements of support, letters
to the editor
and a student government resolution
Stay tuned for updates in 2020 on U.S. PIRG’s Inclusive Access Deal Tracker

UNESCO RECOMMENDATION: This fall, UNESCO unanimously recommended a new
policy on OER in support of achieving the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda.
Their recommendations
include five objectives: building capacity of stakeholders to create,
access, use, adapt, and redistribute OER; developing supportive policy at
the national level; encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER;
nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER; and facilitating
international cooperation. A UNESCO report released earlier this year,
the Impact of OER: Achievements and Challenges’
also provided a series of case studies detailing OER policies and
initiatives happening across the world.

OPEN ED 2020?: During the 16th Annual Open Education Conference, which took
place this fall in Phoenix, Arizona, conference organizer David Wiley
announced that he would be stepping down
<https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/6153> from his role in organizing
the conference, leaving the future of an annual open education convening in
the hands of the community. As a first step, a group of advocates
circulated a letter
calling for those who support organizing the conference in 2020 to step
forward with their interest and ideas. Those interested in helping to
support the conference should respond here
In case you missed it, check out the OER Digest video edition
<https://youtu.be/Ld9kkrb5yo4>, filmed on-site at the 2019 Open Ed


Quick snapshots of those making change on the ground level, and those

FROM PENNSYLVANIA: Six Slippery Rock University faculty members received
OER grants to revise their courses by using low-cost or free educational
materials instead of traditional textbooks. Bradley Wilson, associate
provost for Academic Affairs at SRU, said the grant program began last year
as an initiative to promote awareness of OER among faculty and encourage
them to do their research and see if OER could work for the courses they
teach. “This grant program is sort of an effort to encourage faculty to
look at [OER] as an alternative to commercial textbooks that students would
have to buy,” Wilson said.

FROM CALIFORNIA: Pierce College’s Pierce Open Pathways (POP) program has
saved more than $2 million in textbook costs since 2015. Students in the
program can earn an entire university transfer degree without ever paying
for a traditional textbook. More than 50 classes are offered through the
program each term, and that number will only continue to grow, according to
Pierce College at JBLM Executive Director Mark Haskins. “It’s important to
remember that OER is not just about savings, but it’s also about relevant,
flexible course materials,” Haskins said.

FROM TENNESSEE: A new initiative to reduce or eliminate textbook costs has
taken off in Bethel University’s College of Adult & Professional Studies,
improving educational accessibility and affordability for hundreds of
students. “One of the beautiful things about this initiative is that it is
a vehicle for collaboration among many departments at Bethel,” said
research and instruction librarian Earleen Warner. “It’s a way for us to
come together and support our students.”


Each edition, we highlight an interesting, new, openly-licensed resource

Temple University Press has published “Structural Analysis”
by Felix Udoeyo, an open textbook designed for upper-level graduates
studying civil engineering, construction engineering and management, and
architecture. The textbook is intended to teach students the methods and
techniques for the analysis of structures.


Great reads to repost or share and interesting discussions to consider

Great to Share >>

Open and distance learning - making transformation happen
<https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20191204111947625> |
University World News

Interesting to Consider >>

Competition regulator challenges publishing giants’ union
| Times Higher Education

How Professors Help Rip off Students
<https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/11/opinion/textbook-prices-college.html> |
The New York Times

Have suggestions for the next edition? Let us know at oerdigest at gmail.com,
or tweet us @OERdigest <https://twitter.com/oerdigest>.

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
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