Teaching note: Creating open textbooks for social work education

Abstract:  Open educational resources (OER) and the open education movement have blossomed over the past decade, yet their demonstrated impact on social work is in its infancy. This teaching note describes the process of creating the first two open textbooks for social work education about undergraduate and graduate research methods. In the first year post-publication, the undergraduate open textbook was used by over 1,100 students across 35 campuses and accrued an estimated savings of $150,000 for students. Despite these clear benefits, the process of resource creation for faculty can be challenging, and this note offers practical guidance for faculty considering both small or large-scale open textbook projects. As universities, states, and international bodies increase funding for the creation and adoption of OER, the field of Social Work should demonstrate its commitment to equity, inclusion, and justice by leading these efforts within our classrooms, discipline, and institutions.


Open Matters: A Brief Intro | New England Board of Higher Education

“In late September 2019, I joined NEBHE as its Open Education Fellow to help build upon the grassroots efforts that have been underway for years in the Northeast aiming to lessen the burden that textbook costs place on higher education students and their families. Like so many of my colleagues doing this work day in and day out, I’m passionate about breaking down this very real barrier to student learning and success. Many people still have only a vague sense of “Open Education,” so I’d like to share some thoughts on what it is and why it matters.

I recently attended my third Open Education Global Conference in November 2019 at Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy. As always, I returned home from the conference, feeling inspired after engaging with colleagues from around the globe who are doing amazing things to make education more equitable and attainable for students.

The final conference keynote delivered by Cheryl-Ann Hodgkinson-Williams of the University of Cape Town in South Africa defined “open education” as an umbrella term that encompasses the products, practices and communities associated with this work. The common term that represents the products of Open Education is OER (Open Educational Resources)….”

Is Medical Education Ready for Universal Open Access to Research? | Journal of Graduate Medical Education

“At the current rate of growth, aided by public access policies of the National Institutes of Health and other funders, as well as publishers’ growing open access options, we can reasonably expect that by 2030, readers will have universal public access to most biomedical research literature. This includes the medical education research of interest to readers of JGME. This exciting development is part of a larger open access movement in scholarly publishing that reflects a growing recognition that research and scholarship is better served by freely sharing this work, in ways that were not possible in the age of print. Given its value to science, open access is now attracting the institutional support needed to make it sustainable. At this point, close to half of current research across all disciplines of science is being made open by various means, whether by publication in open access journals, authors posting their final drafts (with publishers’ permission), or articles becoming open access after an embargo period.1 While there are competing models for how universal access will be achieved,2 amid sometimes bumpy negotiations between publishers and libraries,3 none of the stakeholders disagree over the contribution of open access to the advancement of science….

As teachers and educational researchers, our contribution to such considerations has been to study the points and basis of access for physicians and the public. For example, would physicians have the time and interest to access biomedical literature if it was fully open access? In one study, 336 physicians were provided free access to the literature through Stanford University libraries for a year.4 While two-thirds of the participants did not access a research article over that year (with some attributing this to a lack of reminders or promotion of the service), one-third viewed 1 article a week, on average, for purposes that ranged from assisting with clinical care to educating fellow physicians. Some reported withdrawal symptoms when the access ended; others informed us of how, prior to this study, they had been deterred from consulting research by encountering a paywall. The results suggested that physicians need to be informed of their growing access to research, and guidance on how to skillfully and effectively use this access should be added to their training. Building expectations of access to this work will support its realization, while providing guidance on its use will result in better medical education and better informed medical practices….”

New Public Data Tool Lets You See What Curricula Schools in Nebraska Are Using – Teaching Now – Education Week Teacher

“Across the country, it’s hard to know exactly which curricular materials schools are using—there isn’t a national directory of districts’ selections. But in a new tool released last week, Nebraska unveiled a searchable database showing the resources the state’s districts have adopted.

The interactive instructional materials map, which Nebraska’s education department debuted on Thursday, shows what curricula districts are using for English-language arts, math, and K-8 science. The map is a project of the Nebraska Instructional Materials Collaborative, an ongoing effort to support districts in implementing high-quality, standards-aligned resources.

It’s rare for a state to collect and publish information on district curriculum choices in an accessible way. While Massachusetts has a similar tool, many districts in the U.S. are in the dark as to what their peers statewide are using. …”

Adoption and Diffusion of Open Educational Resources (OER) in Education | The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning

Abstract:  The concept of open educational resources (OER) is becoming increasingly prominent in education. However, research circles around defining OER, content and forms of OER, technological features of OER, and the importance of the issue or lack thereof. Vital aspects such as the notion of the adoption of OER by educational practitioners remain underdeveloped. In order to shed light on the question of how to adopt OER in education, the article presents findings of a meta-study which critically reviewed 25 state-funded OER projects located in Germany. All projects aimed to anchor OER across educational areas, such as school, higher, continuing, and vocational education. The meta-analysis disclosed a mixed bag of results. Although interest and willingness to deal with OER can be confirmed, reservation is rooted in the complexity of the topic and especially the legal concerns. However, the findings demonstrate that OER can by no means be ignored in the context of teaching and learning in a digital world. Integrating OER as an aspect of existing educational training should, therefore, be encouraged. Concerning future design recommendations, to conflate OER with other pressing issues and to simultaneously emphasise its added value explicitly is a promising approach. Moreover, establishing central contact points in educational institutions to accompany and monitor actors on their path to OER appears to be necessary. Notwithstanding the concrete measures, any strategy must operate persistently at both levels, institutional and practical, embracing all relevant stakeholders.


Open Education Southern Symposium: Call for Proposals

“The Open Education Southern Symposium (OESS) is accepting proposals for its day and a half conference on Thursday, July 16 and Friday, 17, 2020 at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on the beautiful North Carolina State University campus. …

We welcome proposals from faculty/educators, students, librarians, instructional designers, educational technologists, and administrators as well as institutions and organizations big and small involved in open education and open pedagogy. …”

Call for Proposals – Open Repositories 2020

“The 15th International Conference on Open Repositories, OR2020, will be held in Stellenbosch, South Africa, from 1-4 June 2020. The organisers are pleased to invite you to contribute to the program. This year’s conference theme is: Open for all. 

In today’s world, access to knowledge by all is viewed by some as a fundamental freedom and human right. In our societies, open knowledge for all can enable sustainable development and growth on many levels. How well do repositories support knowledge in the service of society? How well do they enable local knowledge sharing and support not only academic use, but also use in education and practice? …”


Please share Open Principles in Science and Education ideas and philosophy | RDA

“May i request all who are taking part in various events globally on science and education to also make use of the opportunity to promote Open Principles in Education by sharing GeoForAll ideas and welcoming all interested to be part of this. 


I first came across GIS by serendipity. More than twenty years back (in 1994) , I was a student in Civil Engineering in India and by pure chance I came across a short article in a magazine in my college library on the amazing Geographic Information System that is used by town planners. That was the first time I heard about the wonderful technology called GIS! At that time there was no GIS in the college where I did my undergraduate degree. My dream that time was to get opportunity to do my final year undergraduate project using GIS. I still remember the struggles  I faced to just get access to learning GIS as very few universities had GIS that time in India as it was very expensive. I spend nearly two years going around different universities and places knocking so many doors to just to get access to GIS. Unfortunately in spite of all my best efforts I failed that time…


I was disappointed but I carried on working with hope and faith. I did my final year undergraduate project in design of a hospital building! (structural engineering project). Still I kept looking for opportunities to get access to GIS. Years later (after I finished my undergraduate degree), I finally got opportunity to learn GIS through another project and my search for learning  GIS lead me to so many new opportunities . As some wise people told me, FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning. So when I think back, even though my efforts  to get access to GIS in my undergraduate years failed, I learned lot of things from those experiences. In fact, if I had not gone though those experiences , I might not have got the determination to do everything in my abilities to keep the doors of GIS education open to all so that no student anywhere should go through what I went through.


When GeoForAll was started , I faced lot of ridicule and opposition from some folks but I also got lot and lot of amazing support and help from so many amazing colleagues globally. Thanks to all our amazing colleagues, we have now truly made GIS education opportunities open to all. …”

OpenSDP | Strategic Data Project

“Harvard’s Strategic Data Project works with education agencies to find and train data leaders to uncover trends, measure solutions, and effectively communicate evidence to stakeholders. Our inspiring network of system leaders, fellows, and faculty come together to share how to best use data to make a difference in the lives of students….

The Strategic Data Project is a diverse, passionate community of education leaders, data strategists, and faculty committed to using data to help all students succeed. Together, we are driving data-informed change in over 125 school systems and organizations….

Since 2008, SDP has partnered with school districts, charter networks, state agencies, and nonprofit organizations across the country and around the world to bring high-quality research methods and data analysis to bear on education management and policy decisions.

An initiative of the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University, SDP was formed on three fundamental premises: 

1) Policy and management decisions can directly influence schools’ and teachers’ ability to improve student achievement.

2) Valid and reliable data analysis significantly improves the quality of decision making.

3) Building an agency’s internal capacity to conduct rigorous data analysis is critical to producing and sustaining evidence-driven decisions….

OpenSDP is an online, shared community of analytic code, tools, and trainings to foster collaboration among education analysts and researchers. Housed on GitHub, users have access to code and tutorials for every stage of the analytic cycle, from preparing and standardizing user data to conducting analyses and producing visualizations. …”

A Conference on Open Education Invited For-Profit Publishers to a Keynote. Then the Objections Began. – The Chronicle of Higher Education

“Less than two weeks before its 16th annual meeting, the Open Education Conference has canceled one of its keynote panels — “The Future of Learning Materials” — after facing a backlash on social media.

The panel, which had been scheduled for November 1, was slated to include representatives from Cengage, McGraw-Hill, Lumen Learning, and Macmillan, all for-profit publishing companies, as well as the managing director of OpenStax, a nonprofit. It was supposed to explore the potential role of traditional commercial entities in the future of open education resources.

“That role could be anything from ‘no role’ to ‘deeply committed participant,’” David Wiley, a member of the program committee and a co-founder of Lumen Learning, said in an email. Of the more than two dozen speakers and panels nominated for keynotes, the future panel was one of the top vote-getters on the program committee, he added.

But the reaction to the panel highlighted the often contentious relationship between advocates for open education resources and commercial publishers, as open resources expand in the learning-materials market. …”