RI Launches Open Textbook Initiative

riOn September 27th 2016, Governor Gina Raimondo announced a statewide Open Textbook Initiative during a press conference at Rhode Island College (RIC).
The initiative challenged Rhode Island’s higher education institutions to reduce college costs by saving students $5 million over five years using open licensed textbooks. Seven higher education institutions have pledged to support the Governor’s challenge by working with faculty to identify open licensed textbooks that would fit their classes.

Opening the Textbook: new report

OER2A new research report on faculty awareness, use and attitudes toward open textbooks is now available. Opening the Textbook: Educational Resources in Higher Education, 2015-2016.

Among other findings:

Most higher education faculty are unaware of open educational resources (OER) – but they are interested and some are willing to give it a try. Survey results, using
responses of over 3,000 U.S. faculty, show that OER is not a driving force in the selection of materials – with the most significant barrier being the effort required to find and evaluate such materials. Use of open resources is low overall, but somewhat higher for large enrollment introductory-level courses. …
The most common factor cited by faculty when selecting educational resources was the cost to the students. After cost, the next most common was the comprehensiveness of the resource, followed by how easy it was to find.
There is a serious disconnect between how many faculty include a factor in selecting educational resources and how satisfied they are with the state of that factor. For example, faculty are least satisfied with the cost of textbooks, yet that is the most commonly listed factor for resource selections.


U.S. Department of Education Launches Open Educational Resources Campaign

There is a growing awareness in the U.S. that the high cost of textbooks is a problem for many higher education students. This problem is manifest at BC also where costly course materials may be affecting many students’ academic performance. To read more about this issue and what BC is doing in addessing it see the Libraries’ affordable course materials guide.

Costly textbooks and other educational materials is a problem not only for students in higher education. K-12 pupils also encounter this difficulty. To help combat the problem the U.S. Department of Education launched a new campaign, #GoOpen, on 29th October. #GoOpen is “a campaign to encourage states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials. As part of the campaign, the Department is proposing a new regulation that would require all copyrightable intellectual property created with Department grant funds to have an open license.” In launching the campaign U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said:

“In order to ensure that all students – no matter their zip code – have access to high-quality learning resources, we are encouraging districts and states to move away from traditional textbooks and toward freely accessible, openly-licensed materials . . . . Districts across the country are transforming learning by using materials that can be constantly updated and adjusted to meet students’ needs.”

Read the U.S. Department of Education’s press release here.

Campus Computing Project Survey: Attitudes to Open Educational Resources

The Campus Computing Project, in collaboration with Inside Higher Education, publishes an annual national survey of senior university administrators regarding their views on critical planning and policy issues that affect American colleges and universities. Among the several topics addressed in the 2015 survey (published today) is the issue of open educational resources (OER). The survey reveals that over four-fifths of the survey participants (representing 417 two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities) agree that affordable educational textbooks and other OER content “’will be an important source for instructional resources in five years’” and will provide “a viable, very low cost alternative to expensive textbooks.” However, Kenneth C. Green, founding director of the Campus Computing Survey, while viewing OER materials as a viable substitute for these costly textbooks is concerned “about the absence of infrastructure to support OER – the editors, fact-checkers, instructional designers and others who add value, as well as costs, to the development of commercial textbooks and course materials.” Download the Executive Summary & Graphics.

Growing momentum for OER

This a128px-Neon_Open_Sign (1)nnouncement was posted yesterday by Nicole Allen of SPARC:

Today the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the hiring of the first ever open education adviser to lead a national effort to expand Open Educational Resources (OER) in K-12 schools. This announcement marks a critical step for ED and the Obama Administration toward leveraging OER as a solution at a time when improving educational access, opportunity and affordability is at the forefront of the nation’s mind.

This exciting announcement is part of the growing momentum within the Obama Administration to support OER and public access to publicly funded resources. Last month SPARC and 100 other organizations signed a letter calling on the White House to ensure that educational materials created with federal funds are released to the public as OER.

Read more

New Digital.Bodleian Website

bodleianEarlier this month Oxford’s Bodleian Library launched its new Digital.Bodleian website. This site includes over 100,000 images and covers a wonderfully diverse group of topics, e.g. medieval maps; botanical watercolors; 18th and 19th century children’s board games; Victorian playbills, handbills, postcards and posters; Greek and Hebrew manuscripts; Conservative Party election posters; paintings from 19th-century Calcutta; and much more.

There are few restrictions on the use of the digital images, once the use is non-commercial. From the press release:

Digital.Bodleian . . . allows users to download images for non-commercial use, make private notes and annotations, leave public comments on images and share images on social media. The resource is particularly suited to educational use as all images are available under an open license allowing for use in presentations, on virtual learning environments and on other non-commercial platforms.

Open Educational Resources (OER) and the Higher Education Environment

The swiftly increasing cost of academic resources, especially student textbooks and other required course readings, is a well-publicized problem for students at college and university (see the BC Library guide Open Access and Scholarly Publishing: Open Educational Resources).

In an article in this month’s issue of C&RL News, “Open educational resources and the higher education environment: A leadership opportunity for libraries“, co-authors Kristi Jensen and Quill West provide interesting insights into open educational resources (OER). For example, West makes the very pertinent point that OERs are beneficial for more than just saving students money on textbooks:

Open education is a philosophy, a pedagogical shift, and a movement that works to improve educational experiences through adopting learning materials that aren’t locked down by restrictive copyright laws. In a lot of ways open education is about saving students money on textbooks, which helps institutions to meet equity of access missions. However, open education is also about increasing student achievement, inspiring passion among faculty, and building better connections between students and the materials that they use to meet their educational goals.

For the full article.

OER a key trend in the 2015 Horizon Report

OER2From the 2015 Horizon Report:

Proliferation of Open Educational Resources Mid-Term Trend: Driving Ed Tech adoption in higher education for three to five years.

Open textbooks are being considered as a viable means for cutting excess costs with the goal of making education more affordable for students. According to a 2014 study by US PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs, of 2,039 students surveyed, 65% said
that they had not bought a textbook due to its high price. Open textbooks are open-source e-books that are freely available with nonrestrictive licenses, and have been popularized by projects such as Rice University’s Open Stax College and College Open Textbooks, a
non-profit collaborative of over 200 universities and 29 organizations.

The Impact of Open Textbooks on Secondary Science Learning Outcomes

It is well-known that the cost of many k-12 textbooks is extremely high and, consequently, constitute a serious financial burden for numerous pupils and their families. Not surprisingly the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement whose goal is to increase the usage of freely available teaching, learning and research materials is growing in importance and popularity. Such free resources might be textbooks, modules, videos, software, tests and a variety of other openly accessible course materials.

Recently T. Jared Robinson, Lane Fischer, David Wiley, and John Hilton III published the article “The Impact of Open Textbooks on Secondary Science Learning Outcomes” in Educational Researcher, 2014 43: 341. This article discussed the educational outcome of the usage by 4,183 students and 43 teachers from the Nebo School District in Utah of open science textbooks.

Given the increasing costs associated with commercial textbooks and decreasing financial support of public schools, it is important to better understand the impacts of open educational resources on student outcomes. The purpose of this quantitative study is to analyze whether the adoption of open science textbooks significantly affects science learning outcomes for secondary students in earth systems, chemistry, and physics.

This study uses a quantitative quasi-experimental design with propensity score matched groups and multiple regression to examine whether student learning was influenced by the adoption of open textbooks instead of traditional publisher produced textbooks. Students who used open textbooks scored .65 points higher on end-of-year state standardized science tests than students using traditional textbooks when controlling for the effects of 10 student and teacher covariates. Further analysis revealed statistically significant positive gains for students using the open chemistry textbooks, with no significant difference in student scores for earth systems of physics courses. Although the effect size of the gains were relatively small, and not consistent across all textbooks, the finding that open textbooks can be as effective or even slightly more effective than their traditional counterparts has important considerations in terms of school district policy in a climate of finite educational funding.


Three Experts on Open Access, Open Educational Resources and Open Data

In this month’s College & Research Libraries News Peter Binfield, Nicole Allen and Carly Strasser provide a snapshot of recent developments in different aspects of scholarly communication. Binfield discusses Open access, Allen Open Educational Resources (OER), and Strasser Open Data and Data Management.

Allen’s prediction regarding the development of OER over the next 12 months is particularly interesting as well as promising:

Over the next 12 months there will be a flood of OER coming out into the marketplace. The largest wave will come from the first round of the Department of Labor’s $2 billion workforce training grant program, which requires all participating grantees to release educational materials under a Creative Commons Attribution license. We are also going to see a number of high-impact open textbooks from publishing projects at Rice University, Oregon State University, and SUNY. I think this influx of content will drive conversations about how to better organize and share content. My hope is that it will also help people see the potential of OER beyond just cutting costs, as a new infrastructure that can support innovative teaching and learning practices that are only possible in an open environment.

For the complete article.