OER Summit June 3-5, 2014

by Andrea GillaspySteinhilper

[OER.  SugarLabs remix of UNESCO OER logo, accessed 18 August 2014 from http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/ Open_Educational_Resources
The OER Summit in Portland was designed as a set of working sessions to move colleges further along the OER path.  There were sessions on Institutional Policy, Faculty Involvement, Librarians, and Economic Models.   Each group was to come up with selling points for OER which could be applied across institutions, and possibly strategies or plans to be further developed after the conference.  

The group on Institutional Policy tried to identify boilerplate language to use as an OER policy, but more successfully had recommendations, notably to give faculty the same stipend for conversion to OER that they might give for conversion to an online course.  They also had many talking points on why OER are essential in todays schools (such as, increasing access to education; advancing and transforming the processes of teaching and learning). In addition, schools getting military funding ( and Tidewater is one of these) are not ALLOWED by the federal government to charge for their textbooks – they MUST go OER.  

The Faculty group suggested an OER sabbatical.  They also pointed out that when a course is marked as OER, enrollment skyrockets, as students know they won’t have to pay for a textbook.  

The Economic group pointed out that OER helps the school just as much as the bookstore payback, because more students complete courses if they are OER, and more students enroll for OER courses.  One school system (Tidewater, in Virginia), has initiated a “Z-Degree” (for zero cost), and their economics show that the increased tuition revenue is higher than the cost of providing the OER Z-degree.  

And, finally, the Librarians said that while we want to do everything, we have limited staff.  To deal with this problem, we thought that as collections move digitally, we can transform collection development people into folks who look for OER, and re-imagine catalogers into people who classify the OER.  Several librarians talked about developing a course to teach us ALL a modicum of OER savvy, similar to Boyoung Chae’s course.  SPARC has a section devoted to OER, headed by Nicole Allen, and she has made a google group/listserve on OER.  In addition, Nicole is working to bring OER exhibits to colleges across the country.  

This was a very worthwhile conference.  OER is booming around the country.   

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