Editor’s note: This story is part of a series examining the aspects of recruitment, enrollment, and retention on U.S. campuses. Check back each Monday for a different look at some of the challenges–and successes–found in higher education today.
- Integrating OER and DEI goals requires moving beyond a focus on expanded access and affordability
- There must be an emphasis on equitable outcomes and retaining underserved students
Adopting open educational resources, or OER, can be an effective strategy for meeting campus equity goals and improving retention by reducing failure and withdrawal rates, according to a new report from the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).
Leveraging Open Educational Resources to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A Guide for Campus Change Agents provides practical, evidence-based strategies for aligning OER and DEI in ways that advance the objectives of both initiatives.
In addition to saving students (and institutions) money, making free educational materials available for faculty and students to use, customize, and share can level the academic playing field and narrow performance gaps.
Yet, despite the similar outcomes sought by both, intentional connections are seldom made between OER initiatives and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
“Integrating OER and DEI goals requires moving beyond a focus on expanded learning access and affordability to an emphasis on equitable student outcomes, the retention of underserved students, and an enhanced sense of belonging among those whose perspectives have been excluded or marginalized within the curriculum,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella. “The authors provide campus OER advocates with evidence-based guidance on how to sustain and accelerate their efforts by evoking myriad benefits of OER and intentionally collaborating with, and connecting to, institutional DEI efforts.”
The report outlines seven strategies institutions can use to align their OER initiatives with their DEI goals:
- Engaging Multiple Institutional Partners
- Developing Communication Strategies That Explicitly Connect DEI and OER
- Offering Professional Learning for Faculty and Leaders That Aligns With DEI and OER
- Using Data to Understand the Impact of DEI-OER Implementation
- Building External Collaborations
- Embedding DEI Into OER Course Redesign or Development Grant Programs
- Connecting DEI-OER With Institutional Mission Statements, Strategic Plans, and Internal
This new publication draws on the results of a recently concluded research project designed to discover, document, and disseminate strategies for aligning OER initiatives and DEI goals. Funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the project examined how OER and DEI can most effectively be connected as well as how to assess the impact of those connections on institutional culture, policy, and curriculum; on teaching and learning; and on student success. The research focused on the sixty-six colleges, universities, and state systems that participated in AAC&U’s inaugural yearlong Institute on Open Educational Resources (2021–22).
Leveraging Open Educational Resources to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is co-published by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), a global education nonprofit working to make learning and knowledge-sharing participatory, equitable, and open. It is authored by C. Edward Watson, associate vice president for curricular and pedagogical innovation and executive director of open educational resources and digital innovation at AAC&U; Lisa Petrides, CEO and founder of ISKME; Anastasia Karaglani, research associate at ISKME; Selena Burns, senior research associate at ISKME; and Judith Sebesta, former vice president of ISKME Labs.
This press release originally appeared online.