Open Education Week 2018 at IU: A Recap

On Thursday March 8, the Office of Scholarly Publishing and UITS partnered to hold a day-long Driving Student Success through Affordable Course Material Symposium. The symposium featured three experts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each expert brought a unique  perspective and context to the conversation. Steel Wagstaff (Educational Technology Consultant), Kris Olds (Professor of Geography), and Carrie Nelson (Librarian and Director of Scholarly Communication) presented at morning workshops and participated in an afternoon panel.

Both faculty and staff attended with the symposium, with representatives from the Kelley School of Business, the School of Education, UITS, the Office of Financial Literacy, and the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs present. By the end of the day, at least one faculty member had switched from traditional course content to an affordable, digital eText! We’ve also already met with one faculty member interested in student-created OER and plan to have several follow up conversations in the coming months.

Participants chose one of two morning workshops: “Making Open Textbooks and Other Interactive Learning Activities with Pressbooks” with Steel Wagstaff or “Supporting Campus and Course-Level Adoption of Open Course Content” with Carrie Nelson and Kris Olds. These workshops were informative and informal, shaped by participants’ questions and centered on hands on application.

In Kris and Carrie’s session, we discussed the basics of open/ affordable and covered Creative Commons licensing, which then allowed us to have a more in-depth conversation about the process/ funding needed to create OER, governance and course material selection, student outreach, and the political economy of OER. Kris and Carrie also shared successful strategies for raising awareness about OER on their campus, which several participants felt was the most pressing barrier to more systematic adoption.

Robert McDonald, Associate Dean for Research and Technology Strategies, kicked off the afternoon panel with contextual information about the price of course materials at IUB and how these costs impact students. The panel then opened with an overview of current initiatives at IU Bloomington, presented by Michele Kelmer and Michael Regoli. The panel transitioned to  presentations from our UW-Madison guest experts. Each of the guest’s presentations demonstrated that UW-Madison is engaging in innovative work around Open Educational Resource (OER) creation and community building.

I was inspired by several parts of the panel, but there are two slides I’d like to highlight here as essential and foundational for shaping the Office of Scholarly Publishing’s outreach at IU Bloomington.

  • Steel’s guiding principles for his work:
    • Go anywhere
    • Talk to everyone
    • Say ‘yes… you can’
    • Find partners, champions, and enthusiasts
    • Build local capacity
  • Carrie’s argument that OER and affordable course material content work aligns with library values around:
    • Access
    • Confidentiality/Privacy
    • Democracy
    • Diversity
    • Education and Lifelong Learning
    • Intellectual Freedom
    • The Public Good
    • Preservation
    • Professionalism
    • Service
    • Social Responsibility

These points were both encouraging and motivating to me. The Scholarly Communication Department is invested in instructor agency and autonomy, student access, and building local expertise here at IUB. We hope to continue to find champions and enthusiasts that can partner with us to make these goals possible.

There were several goals for symposium: to build community around course material issues, to connect instructors and relevant staff from key offices on campus, to raise awareness about the spectrum of existing affordable course material work happening at IU Bloomington, and to guide the future of Office of Scholarly Publishing services. We know the conversation doesn’t end here! We look forward to continuing to work with instructors on affordable and open course material creation and adoption. We also hope to partner with librarians and instructors within the IU system, Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA), and Unizin.

Resources

Driving Student Success through Affordable Course Material Symposium To Be Held on March 8

Indiana University Bloomington undergraduate students are estimated to pay $1,034 for course materials each academic year. Said another way, students must work 142 hours at a minimum wage job to purchase their course materials each year. Thus, high course material costs directly impact first generation, food-insecure, and low-income students and their ability to do well in class.

IUB students are estimated to pay $1,034 for books and supplies for the 2017-2018 academic year.  Be part of the solution: http://bit.ly/IUAffordableTextbooks

Image created by IU Press

A national survey of over 2,000 students found that if students cannot afford course materials, 65% of them will avoid renting or buying texts even though they know it may possibly impact their overall success in a course. Almost half of the students surveyed said that the cost of textbooks also “impacted how many/ which classes they took each semester,” potentially affecting student course loads and degree progression (pg. 5).

Affordable and open course materials offer a potential solution to this issue. Affordable course materials are offered to students at a reduced price, often at a fraction of what they would normally pay. IU’s eText program has helped IU instructors integrate affordable course material into their classrooms since 2010. Students play a reduced, flat fee for their eTexts and they are guaranteed access on the first day of the semester, increasing engagement for the entire class. Students retain access to eTexts throughout their time as an IU student.

Similarly, Open Educational Resources (OER) are course materials that are shared under an intellectual property license that explicitly allows others to use and revise them freely. Examples of OER include textbooks, videos, activities, syllabi, and lectures shared under a Creative Commons license. In addition to cost savings, OER have been connected to student retention and completion. A study at Virginia State University found that students who took courses that utilized OER “tended to have higher grades and lower failing and withdrawal rates.” Thus, affordable and open course materials save students money while also helping instructors improve learning outcomes.

Still, many faculty do not know how to find, evaluate, or create affordable and open course material. The Office of Scholarly Publishing and UITS have partnered to hold a day-long Driving Student Success through Affordable Course Material Symposium on March 8, which will explore the connection between course material costs and student success, progression, and retention. The symposium will feature three experts on affordable course material from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Steel Wagstaff (Educational Technology Consultant), Kris Olds (Professor of Geography), and Carrie Nelson (Librarian and Director of Scholarly Communication) will share their experience locating, creating, assessing, and integrating OER and affordable course material into courses in several disciplines.

Morning workshops will explore tools and repositories for finding and creating affordable course materials firsthand. The afternoon panel will provide an overview of current initiatives at IU and UW-Madison and address how course material costs impact students in more depth. The day will conclude with an informal reception, where attendees can meet one-on-one with IU experts to get started on adopting or creating affordable course material in their own courses.

All IU Bloomington instructors interested in course material creation, new forms of pedagogy, and tools for finding and evaluating affordable/ open content are welcome! Space is limited and registration is required by February 16, as lunch is provided.

Instructors interested in working with the Office of Scholarly Publishing to find or create either OER or eTexts can e-mail iusw@indiana.edu.