Great news! OER courses can boost engagement

More than 60 percent of students in the participating community colleges say they experienced a higher-quality learning experience in an OER (open educational resources) course compared to a typical course, according to a new study of 38 community colleges across 13 states.

The two-year study, conducted by SRI International and rpk GROUP and released by Achieving the Dream (ATD), is among the first to examine the direct costs to institutions for supporting broad expansion of OER and degree pathways, and the direct cost for implementing OER degrees is roughly $500,000 per institution over two years.

Creating OER courses and degrees is often time-consuming, but instructors in several community colleges said they changed their instruction as a direct result of working with the open materials.…Read More

Are you up on the latest trends in higher education?

An increased focus on measuring learning, along with putting more thought into redesigning learning spaces, are two trends with great significance for higher ed in the next couple of years, according to the Horizon Report.

Here are six trends that will have wide-ranging impacts on higher education.

Short-term trends

1. Growing focus on measuring learning spaces: This trend encompasses the interest in assessment and the wide variety of methods and tools that educators use to evaluate, measure, and document academic readiness, learning progress, and skill acquisition. As societal and economic factors redefine the skills needed in today’s workforce, colleges and universities must rethink how to define, measure, and demonstrate subject mastery and soft skills such as creativity and collaboration.…Read More

Why do we still have basic textbooks in higher ed?

Textbooks, particularly basic textbooks, are not very efficient containers of information in the Digital Age and represent pernicious cost-drivers for our students. We need to reconsider their role in the modern instructional landscape. A recent study by the College Board indicated that the average cost for a year’s worth of textbooks is over $1200. That’s roughly equivalent to a year’s worth of in-district tuition at my community college.

There is widespread acceptance that this is a national problem and a lot of efforts, stretching all the way from open educational resources (OER) to Congress, have been initiated over the last decade in an attempt to address this issue. All of these efforts, no matter how well-intentioned, miss a basic point: We are still thinking in an industrial mode when it comes to role of the book in our world. These efforts all seek to make books cheaper without asking the question of what their role in education is in the first place.

The problem with textbooks

For centuries, books have formed the backbone of our educational experiences. The earliest universities coalesced around their bibliographic collections. You went to Oxford to “read” history because that was literally where the books were. Even with the advent of printing, books were still a scarce and precious resource. However, books are not the ideas contained in them. They are merely the repositories for the ideas in them and those two are often conflated. The Digital Age is awash with ideas not contained in books. The world of textbooks ignores this basic fact.…Read More

The Borough of Manhattan Community College now offers textbook-free criminal justice degree

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) students majoring in criminal justice can now potentially complete the degree program without ever having to buy a textbook, saving altogether, an estimated $2,500.

BMCC faculty have redesigned 20 courses to create an Open Educational Resources (OER) criminal justice associate degree. The effort was funded by a 2016, two-year OER grant from the organization Achieving the Dream.

This milestone was reached through the efforts of criminal justice faculty as well as professors in core courses such as mathematics. A number of faculty who worked to bring the OER criminal justice degree to fruition—the first OER associate degree program at BMCC—say the process was filled with challenges yet ultimately was energizing.…Read More

OER courses can boost engagement, new study says

Open educational resources (OER) offer a host of benefits to students and faculty, according to a new study of 38 community colleges across 13 states.

More than 60 percent of students in the participating community colleges say they experienced a higher-quality learning experience in an OER course compared to a typical course.

The two-year study, conducted by SRI International and rpk GROUP and released by Achieving the Dream (ATD), is among the first to examine the direct costs to institutions for supporting broad expansion of OER and degree pathways, and the direct cost for implementing OER degrees is roughly $500,000 per institution over two years.…Read More

OER planning 101

Open educational resources (OER) are gaining momentum among stakeholders in higher education. From students to faculty to administrators, the benefits of OER can help offset the rising costs of traditional textbooks.

For over a decade, the pioneers of OER consisted of a group of global trailblazers dedicated to the cause of open access and cost reduction for students. Oftentimes, figuring out the logistics and lessons learned along the trail, they set the stage for broader awareness of OER.

In addition to the pioneers, there has been a myriad of both legislative and non-legislative actions that have brought OER to the attention of many higher-ed administrators and practitioners. And while OER may appear to be a “quick fix” for textbook costs, the perception that OER can be done for free is not necessarily the case, not to mention getting started is easier said than done. There are steps and considerations that can make OER conversion a project worth pursuing.…Read More

6 big-impact technologies on the higher-ed horizon

Analytics technologies, makerspaces, and redesigning learning spaces are just a few of the numerous technology developments and trends outlined in a preview of the forthcoming annual Horizon Report.

The Horizon Report was on shaky ground after the New Media Consortium unexpectedly shut its doors in early 2018, but EDUCAUSE acquired the rights to the report and continued the research.

The annual report outlines issues, technologies, and trends that higher-ed leaders should follow and keep in mind as they outline institutional priorities.…Read More

The pros and cons of open technology

Campuses are moving into the future…and professors may be rejoicing

open-library-campus It’s not just the high cost of textbooks that have libraries scrambling to provide open education (OER) resources. As professors look at alternative options to retain copyright on printed works, and campuses look to expand community partnerships while decreasing budget, going open has never looked so good.

According to a new report, “Open Education Resources: The New Paradigm in Academic Libraries,” by Carmen Mitchell and Melanie Chu of California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) [published in the Journal of Library Innovation, Vol. 5, Issue 1, 2014], a combination of factors have converged to make the use of open resources integral to campuses across the country.

The report aimed to answer the question, ‘As academic library budgets are contracting while library usage is increasing, how can academic libraries best help campuses reduce costs and better serve their communities?”…Read More

10 OER resources every educator should know about

These OER repositories and content creators provide higher-ed faculty and students vetted, free learning materials

openresizedAs textbook prices soar, tuition skyrockets, and educators are more pressured than ever to provide innovative courses and lectures packed with multimedia and current materials, the open education movement and its open education resources (OERs) have never been more critical for success than now.

What began in the ‘90s has now evolved into massive national, state, and university repositories that can be accessed by anyone, anytime…and the best part is, almost all OERs are free. What makes these current repositories worth investing time, however, is that thanks to decades of feedback, many are vetted by educators and are organized into highly-accessible repositories.

Many of these OER resources also provide step-by-step guides and OER tools to make multimedia, such as videos and tutorials.…Read More