Event to honor OER efforts

Texas Woman’s University will celebrate its Open Educational Resources (OER) champions Thursday, Nov. 21, in the Blagg-Huey Library Living Room. The event will take place at 1 p.m., and will include special guest Carolyn Kapinus, interim provost, a video from Chancellor Carine M. Feyten and a panel discussion featuring winners of a Spring 2019 initiative to transform course materials to OER. Refreshments will be provided.

Open Educational Resources are educational materials that are in the public domain or have been released under an open license, meaning anyone can legally copy, use, adapt and redistribute them with no or limited restrictions.

In the video, Chancellor Feyten states that many TWU students come from historically underserved and less-privileged groups and face many financial burdens. Some fall behind at the beginning of classes because they have to decide between buying food, paying rent, or having textbooks in the first few weeks of class. By transitioning to low- or even no-cost textbooks, she says, the university could contribute to students’ retention, progression, and timely graduation. She encourages faculty to explore better and less costly ways to deliver content, primarily in foundational core classes.

Her challenge was answered in a big way. The TWU Libraries — in collaboration with Teaching and Learning with Technology, the Center for Faculty Excellence, and IT Solutions — launched a Spring 2019 initiative to reward the department that saved students the most money by transitioning to no-cost textbooks, lab manuals and other educational materials.

The initiative’s “Departmental Award for Student Textbook Cost Savings” was awarded to the biology department, where faculty members Shazia Ahmed, Amy Jo Hammett and Ann Marie Davis transitioned nine courses to no-cost materials, saving students almost $400,000 per year.

The initiative winners and Brandi Falley (math and computer science), who received a $10,000 Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board grant to transition math classes to OER, will describe their journey to incorporate OER into their classroom during the Nov. 21 event.

Amanda Zerangue, manager of digital services and scholarly communication for the TWU Libraries, said a new initiative, the Course Redesign Cohort, will focus on encouraging core curriculum instructors to transition and adopt OER for their students. The cohort members will become part of an OER community at TWU, including being paired with a librarian and instructional designer to assist with their transition to low- or no-cost learning resources.