Open Education Conference 2020

This year, the Open Education Conference was entirely online – which made it possible for me and Sara to attend and present a lightning talk titled “OER is Served: Framing OER as a Service to Stakeholders“.

Like Juliana and Sara when they attended OpenEd in 2018, I was excited to hear how other colleges and universities around the world were starting and sustaining their open education initiatives and I learned many things to use in my own work.

CC-BY 4.0: Open Education Conference
“That’s Not an Issue Here”: Addressing Myths and Misconceptions about OER at Private Institutions

A lot of the writing and tips about working on OER programs come from and address publicly-funded colleges and universities; since Touro is one of a growing number of private institutions working on OER, this session was a relevant one. The presenters reiterated something we have already found to be true at Touro: private college students are just as concerned about textbooks costs as their public college peers, and private college faculty are just as interested in addressing those concerns.

How (and Why) to Create Your Own OER Podcast

This session from staff at MIT Open Learning detailed how they created a podcast called Chalk Beat Radio to promote open educational resources at MIT and beyond. The session began with the hosts playing a podcast they recorded explaining the steps they took to create the podcast series from start to finish and how they addressed some of the challenges they encountered. After they played the podcast, there was a live question and answer session, and there were many takeaways we can bring to our OER information sessions and webinars — maybe we’ll start a podcast, too!

Reimagining PreK-12 OER Development through Teacher Education Programs

Because Touro has such a strong School of Education, the discipline has been a focus as we try to grow the Open Touro initiative. Teacher training is also a natural fit for open pedagogy practices, and this session explored how that is being put into practice at Lehman College (CUNY) in the Bronx through a partnership between a faculty member and a librarian.

Beyond Funding: Strategies for Sustaining OER at a Community College

The OER Initiative at the Harrisburg Area Community College in Pennsylvania began during the 2019-2020 school year with the formation of a committee who got to work building a community that would adopt, adapt, and author OER and would keep the momentum going, even if funding ran out. The presenters pushed the importance of experienced faculty members who can support those just starting out, which is something we are working on developing through Touro’s OER Faculty Fellowship.

The Future of OpenEd

The Friday Plenary explored participants’ perceptions of this year’s conference and how this online format might be included in the future iterations of the conference, even if some aspects of it do return to in-person delivery. It was a productive way to wrap up the sessions and gave me a lot to think about as I finish my first year as an OER librarian.

All Open Education Conference sessions were recorded and will be made available for free on the conference website in the coming weeks.

If you are interested in learning more about open education at Touro, please check out our guides at the links below:

This post was contributed by Georgia Westbrook, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian

Open Education Week 2020

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Image source: openeducationweek.org

Happy Open Education Week! At Touro College Libraries, we are celebrating all things open education this week (and the rest of the year too). Follow this blog, and our social media accounts (@tourolibraries), and check out our bulletin board outside of the Midtown Library.

What would you do if you had an extra $175 to spend?

One Touro student saved that much in one semester when her professors used OER, or open educational resources, instead of traditional textbooks. OER, as defined by the Hewlett Foundation, “are high-quality teaching, learning, and research materials that are free for people everywhere to use and repurpose.” These materials can include test banks, lesson plans, and assignment templates, but most commonly, the term OER is associated with textbooks.

In the definition of OER, free means both free of costs and free when it comes to the application of copyrights. OER are licensed under Creative Commons, or are simply in the public domain, which means they can be distributed, adapted, copied, edited —basically you name it — without legal repercussions.

And, as that student who saved $175 put it, “Open textbooks are helping me drastically cut costs associated with pursuing my undergraduate degree and I am now able to apply these funds towards other things including tuition payments. It makes my life easier since typically at the end of each semester I am left with these books that I will likely never use again that just take up space as they sometimes can’t be resold.”

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Image source: Manfred Steger from Pixabay

Despite such positive student experiences, myths about OER abound:

Myth #1: Open simply means free. Fact: Open means the permission to freely download, edit, and share materials to better serve all students.

Myth #2: All OER are digital. Fact: OER take many formats, including print, digital, audio, and more.

Myth #3: “You get what you pay for.” Fact: OER can be produced to the same quality standards as traditional textbooks.

Myth #4: Copyright for OER is complicated Fact: Open licensing makes OER easy to freely and legally use.

Myth #5: OER are not sustainable. Fact: Models are evolving to support the sustainability and continuous improvement of OER.

Myth #6: Open textbooks lack ancillaries. Fact: Open textbooks often come with ancillaries, and when they do not, existing OER can provide additional support.

Myth #7: My institution is not ready for OER. Fact: Any institution can start with small steps toward OER that make an impact for students.

(Source: “OER Mythbusting” from SPARC)

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Image source: Annett Zobel from Pixabay

Faculty across Touro are already adopting and adapting OER textbooks for their courses.

For example, the psychology department faculty at NYSCAS have adopted OER for their GPSN 110 course, and because of this, over 290 students across more than 12 sections have benefited from free, open textbooks.

Since the Open Touro initiative was established in Fall 2018, the use of OER has saved Touro students over $54,000 collegewide.

You can help increase that number by adopting, adapting, or even authoring your own OER — and librarians are here to help!

If you are interested in reviewing open textbooks available in your field, contact Georgia Westbrook (georgia.westbrook@touro.edu) or Sara Tabaei (sara.tabaei@touro.edu).

Learn more about the Open Touro OER Initiative here: http://libguides.tourolib.org/OER

This post was contributed by Georgia Westbrook, Open Educational Resources & Instruction Librarian.