Pandemic didn't speed adoption of open educational resources, but outlook is promising

As COVID-19 forced professors to embrace digital texts, they were likelier to know about -- but not to use -- free, openly licensed materials. Progress was greatest at colleges that promoted OER, especially minority-serving ones.

Free law textbooks raise questions about OER

Legal scholars are increasingly adopting and creating free textbooks in an attempt to increase affordability for students. But are these textbooks considered open educational resources?


New partnership between SUNY and Lumen aims to take open educational resources to scale

State University of New York system strikes deal with Lumen Learning to expand and fill gaps in systemwide platform to deliver open educational resources free to students.

University of California cancels deal with Elsevier after months of negotiations

After months of negotiating over open-access fees and paywalls, the University of California System follows through on threat to cancel its journal subscription deal with Elsevier.


Arizona State and Chippewa Valley get OER grants as Education Department changes course

UPDATED: Education Department apparently disregards congressional instructions for spending 2019 money, dividing $5 million between Arizona State University and Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Department of Education awards pilot OER grant to UC Davis open textbook project

Updated: Education Department awards $4.9 million to a 12-institution consortium led by UC Davis for open STEM textbooks. Advocates push for spreading the wealth for next year's round of funding.

The many non-economic benefits of OER (letter)

To the editor:

In a recent op-ed, “The Hidden Costs of Open Educational Resources,” Professor Stuart Barbier of Delta College examined the role of OER in higher education, and found it wanting. He acknowledged that OER is attractive because it saves students money, but inferior in quality and lacking in peer review. He invites us to show him other OER benefits, and we eagerly accept his invitation.  

The power of OER lies in its multifaceted impact upon teaching and learning. It eliminates costs, and contributes to the urgent issue of basic needs. It grants equal access to learning materials at the beginning of the class, and helps retention and course completion. For faculty, OER affords them the freedom to create culturally relevant and community-based learning materials that are not always available through textbook publishers. At Bunker Hill Community College, where we value the cultural wealth and lived experiences of our communities, OER provides a new opportunity to activate these assets. Many times, faculty and students co-create new knowledge together through their class and field work, offering a new perspective on the ownership of knowledge in teaching and learning.  

For many of us participating in this movement, OER has been a grassroots initiative in which faculty and discipline experts create materials that serve their communities. We have seen passion and commitment beyond cost-savings. Faculty from around the world find creating and curating OER material to be the best expression of academic freedom because they are not tied to one book or publisher that may not be representative of their student population or course outcomes.  

In the past, there have been concerns over the quality of OER work, and the lack of peer reviewed material. Thanks to the OER community, there are several organizations like Openstax, Open Education Network (OEN) and OER Commons that provide a wealth of peer reviewed textbooks and faculty resources.  

Bunker Hill Community College was part of the first Achieving the Dream OER Degree Initiative. Our faculty started with 10 sections and the program has grown to 128 sections of 46 courses. The maturation of OER has given faculty greater choices in curriculum design, and allowed for the inclusion of a broad range of materials that are contemporary as well as community-based and culturally relevant. As we iterate our OER work, we are convinced that the movement has reinvigorated the scholarship of teaching and learning, as well as the student experience in and beyond the classroom. That is more than cost savings. That is the future of education itself. 

--Grace Mah
Associate dean, online learning and teaching innovations
Bunker Hill Community College

--Ceit De Vitto
Senior special program coordinator for OER/digital tools
Bunker Hill Community College


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OER Can Save Colleges Money, Too

A new study shows that open educational resources can help students save money, which encourages them to enroll in more classes.

The report details the results of the Open Educational Resources Degree Initiative from Achieving the Dream, a network of 277 community colleges committed to student success.

Over three years, 38 colleges across 13 states offered 6,600 OER course sections. Nearly 600 courses were redesigned to use OERs. According to Achieving the Dream, it's the largest study of how using OERs impacts colleges.

SRI Education and rpk Group studied the outcomes of this initiative and released the results Wednesday at Achieving the Dream's annual national conference.

Most importantly, the initiative was coordinated across departments in each college, according to Karen Stout, president of Achieving the Dream. It was a "whole college transformation effort," she said.

Scaling OER won't happen through heroic individual efforts, said Rebecca Griffiths, principal education researcher at SRI Education.

"It needs to be institutional," she said.

The report found that students who enrolled in OER courses earned more credits than their peers who did not take OER courses. Students also saved $10.7 million on the cost of learning materials over the time of the initiative.

Colleges also saved money, the report found. Researchers looked at five institutions and estimated they would recover their investments in OER and, in some cases, generate new revenue from the efforts.

On average, colleges spent about $70 per student on developing OERs, which mostly went toward paying faculty to develop the courses. Researchers estimated there was an average of $1.03 in gross revenue generated for every dollar spent on redesigning courses.

Students also reported higher quality of learning in OER courses, and many rated those programs higher than traditional programs on aspects like student engagement.

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California community colleges implement zero-textbook-cost degree pathways

As California's community colleges implement degree pathways with no textbook costs, what -- if anything -- can be gleaned from their data?

Maryland colleges earn OER grants

Maryland Colleges Earn OER Grants


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