OE [Open Education] Day at UTA [U of Texas at Arlington]

Abstract:  We’ll define open educational resources (OER), examine the impact of OER use in higher education, discuss copyright and open licensing, and explore avenues for identifying existing OER that can be remixed and reused. The presentation will cover updates on federal and state OER initiatives and highlight support for open educational practices at UTA, including access to and technical support for Pressbooks, a web-based publishing platform.

Student Savings at Scale: LibreTexts – SPARC

LibreTexts offers materials in 12 widely used college-level disciplines from chemistry to humanities. It has 398 textbooks (68,500 pages) in its free online library and covers 154 courses. Since it was established 11 years ago, LibreTexts has been used by 223 million students saving them approximately $31 million….”

Using open education isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ when students are starving (opinion)

Replying to a recent blog post, Jonathan Poritz argues that lowering students’ costs by using open educational resources isn’t just a nicety in an era when many students are hungry and textbook “quality” is exaggerated….

[H]igh textbook costs mean that students:

  • enroll in fewer courses — and consequently take longer to graduate,
  • choose courses based on textbook price rather than for academic reasons, and
  • don’t buy required textbooks — and consequently often do more poorly and more frequently fail or withdraw….

Green oddly misses the main takeaway from this study: it found a one-third reduction in DFW rates among minority and Pell-eligible students when courses switched from commercial textbooks to OER.

So not only are OER responsible for at least a modest academic improvement for all students while making a significant difference to one of the central issues of higher education in our time — skyrocketing costs and student debt — they also make a significant difference in the achievement gap between demographic groups….

  1. There is little actual reason to believe that commercial textbooks are of higher quality than OER — in fact, there is good evidence that they are not, at least by all reasonable metrics of quality — and to believe this is to have merely blind faith in a form of free-market fundamentalism that doesn’t even apply in the failed market of textbooks.”


Indian payment-for-papers proposal rattles scientists

“Indian scientists are criticizing a government proposal to pay graduate students who publish in select journals. They fear that it could degrade the quality of research and lead to an increase in scientific misconduct, by incentivizing publishing rather than good science….”

A Systematic Approach to Collecting Student Work

Abstract:  Digital technology has profoundly changed design education over the past couple of decades. The digital design process generates design solutions from many different angles and points of views, captured and expressed in many file formats and file types. In this environment of ubiquitous digital files, what are effective ways for a design school to capture a snapshot of the work created within their school, and to create a long-term collection of student files for purposes of research and promotion, and for preserving the history of the school?

This paper describes the recent efforts of the Harvard Graduate School of Design in creating a scalable and long-term data management solution for digital student work files. The first part describes the context and history of student work at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The second section of the paper focuses on the functionality of the tool we created, and lastly, the paper looks at the library’s current efforts for the long-term archiving of the collected student files in Harvard’s digital repository.

Eurodoc | European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers

Eurodoc is the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers. It is an international federation of 29 national organisations of PhD candidates, and more generally of young researchers from 28 countries of the European Union and the Council of Europe.

Eurodoc’s objectives are:

  • To represent doctoral candidates and junior researchers at the European level in matters of education, research, and professional development of their careers.
  • To advance the quality of doctoral programmes and the standards of research activity in Europe.
  • To promote the circulation of information on issues regarding young researchers; organize events, take part in debates and assist in the elaboration of policies about Higher Education and Research in Europe.
  • To establish and promote co-operation between national associations representing doctoral candidates and junior researchers within Europe….”

OER as an Institutional Survival Strategy | Confessions of a Community College Dean

“Shift focus from “tuition and fees” to “total cost of attendance,” and foster the adoption of OER at scale.  Money not spent on textbooks can offset tuition increases from a student perspective, while still allowing needed operating revenue to flow to the institution.

In the right context, done well, OER represents the rare win-win.  A student facing a tuition increase of, say, a hundred dollars a semester probably breaks even with a single course moving to OER, and comes out ahead if two or more courses do.  Tuition may go up, but total cost of attendance — the meaningful number — remains flat or even drops. Even better, OER allows every single student to have the book from the first day of class, which can help with course completion and retention, and therefore enrollment.  (One of the most powerful predictors of retention is GPA. Students with GPA’s below 2.0 drop out at much higher rates than students above 2.0. Not having the book affects academic performance; presumably, having the book may affect it in a positive way.) You can maintain a sustainable funding level for the college, keep costs down for students, and improve retention rates at the same time.

In essence, it redirects revenue from publishers to colleges and students. Yes, that takes a bite out of some commercial publishers, but that’s their problem.  They should have thought of that before charging $300 for an Intro to Physics textbook, or before bundling non-transferable software codes with textbooks to short-circuit the used book market….

I ran some back-of-the-envelope numbers for Brookdale over the last few days, to see how much money OER has saved or will save students in the coming year.  Based only on courses that have already committed to adopting it, we’re looking at over a million dollars per year in textbook cost savings….”

PRESS RELEASE: Researchers Respond to Implementation of Plan S | Eurodoc

joint response to the implementation guidance for Plan S has today been issued by three organisations representing early-career and senior researchers in Europe. The response by the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (Eurodoc), the Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA), and the Young Academy of Europe (YAE) offers concrete recommendations on the proposed guidance for implementing Open Access via Plan S.

Our three organisations represent a broad spectrum of researchers in Europe: Eurodoc represents 100000+ doctoral candidates and postdoctoral researchers from 29 national associations across Europe; MCAA has 10000+ members who are alumni fellows of the Marie Sk?odowska-Curie Actions (MSCA); YAE consists of 200+ outstanding and recognised researchers in Europe. We all strongly support the main goals of Open Science and Plan S.

The joint response builds upon previous recommendations by our organisations on the principles of Plan S and aims to ensure its realistic implementation from the perspective of European researchers. Eurodoc President Gareth O’Neill: “Plan S has shaken the academic community awake and created a lively discussion on Open Access publishing. cOAlition S has addressed some key concerns from researchers in the technical guidance but still leaves other issues open and sets too strict standards for the desired broad adoption of Plan S.” …”

Book Review: Shadow Libraries: Access to Knowledge in Global Higher Education » Open@VT

Shadow Libraries is a collection of country studies exploring “how students get the materials they need.”  Most chapters report original research (usually responses to student surveys) in addition to providing useful background on the shadow library history of each nation (Russia, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, India, Poland, and South Africa).  As editor Karaganis puts it in his introduction, the book shows “the personal struggle to participate in global scientific and educational communities, and the recourse to a wide array of ad hoc strategies and networks when formal, authorized means are lacking… ” (p. 3). Shadow libraries, sometimes called pirate libraries, consist of texts (in this case, scholarly texts) aggregated outside the legal framework of copyright.

Karaganis’ introductory chapter does an excellent job summarizing the themes connecting the chapters, and is worth reading by itself.  For example, the factors leading to the development of shadow libraries are common to each country covered: low income; a dysfunctional market in which materials either aren’t available or are overpriced; a rising student population; and easy access to copying and/or sharing technology. The student population boom in low and middle-income countries in the last 20 years is remarkable- quadrupling in India, tripling in Brazil, and doubling in Poland, Mexico, and South Africa.  At the same time, reductions in state support for higher education have exacerbated the affordability problem, leaving the market to meet (or more commonly, not meet) demand.  Add to this the tendency of publishers to price learning and research materials for libraries rather than individuals, and the result is a real crisis of legal access….”

Scholarly Communication Survey Results on Open Access Themes – Teaching, Research & Learning

Of the 309 people who answered this survey question, 94% were in favor of implementing an open access policy at Penn, with 68% strongly in favor. Of those 309, 188 (61%) had never heard of or used ScholarlyCommons, but the percent in favor was nearly identical – 93% in favor, with 68% strongly in favor.

Looking at specific populations, faculty (tenured and tenure track) closely followed this pattern (93% in favor, with 62% strongly in favor), and all 68 graduate students who answered this question were in favor of an open access policy, with none opposed….”