# Recapping the year in digital learning

Open educational resources (OER) have been around — and gaining ground — for more than a decade, but 2018 was a turning point in a number of ways. Governments put nearly $20 million toward expanding OER in higher education, including$8 million from New York for the second year in a row, and $10 million from the U.S. Congress. Similar investments have generated significant returns in student savings, most recently confirmed in a North Dakota state audit that documented savings 10 to 20 times the modest original investment. Worldwide, the savings through OER for students, parents and schools have surpassed$1 billion, according to our calculations.

Also this year, OpenStax announced that its free, open textbooks are used at nearly half of all U.S. institutions, and at least 38 community colleges are establishing degree pathways that use OER in every course. Links between OER and equity are emerging, with a new study from the University of Georgia that found the use of OER was associated with higher grades for Pell-eligible and other traditionally underserved students. Meanwhile, OER is becoming a focal point in mainstream higher education conversations, most recently with an OER implementation summit organized by the regional higher education compacts MHEC and WICHE.

Five years from now, we will still be talking about OER — but not in the way you might think. My prediction is that 2019 is the year when the national conversation about OER shifts from being solely about saving money to leveraging openness to make course materials better. OER has the power to unlock new ways for faculty to exercise academic freedom in the classroom, for students to meaningfully engage with their materials and for institutions to promote the success of all students.”

# 10/31/18: Daniel Williamson’s 10-year retrospective – OpenStax

“My path to OpenStax was a convoluted one. I went to Rice University to study opera performance, but like many students I had a change of heart somewhere along the way. Luckily, I had also been working as a technologist throughout college, doing website design and development for faculty. When I graduated in 2008, in the height of the recession, I was fortunate enough to have one of my supervisors recommend that I look into working at Connexions – the predecessor to OpenStax.

I joined the team as a content manager, thinking that this would be a good interim job where I could learn some new skills while I figured out what I was going to do with my life.

I quickly realized that I was working with brilliant people looking to solve a very interesting problem: how to democratize access to publishing and increase the availability of knowledge….”

# michael_nielsen on Twitter: “Open access is often argued about in the abstract. I want to talk about a specific case study where I have detailed data – usage patterns for my (open access) online book/monograph “Neural Networks and Deep Learning” https://t.co/Kwy23b9E11″

“Open access is often argued about in the abstract. I want to talk about a specific case study where I have detailed data – usage patterns for my (open access) online book/monograph “Neural Networks and Deep Learning” http://neuralnetworksanddeeplearning.com/chap1.html …

Would any of this have been possible closed access? Of course some of it would have. I might have made more money. But on nearly every other metric, I suspect being open access was a 100x or more multiplier on the impact….

To sum up: open access makes material freely available to people who would otherwise never even hear about it. This amplifying effect is not small, it is enormous.  And it applies in parts of the world woefully underserved by the existing publication system….

Some additional calibration data: an editor at a major academic press tells me great sales figures for a similar technical textbook in a “hot” field are typically about 5,000-10,000 a year.  So open access has a factor 200x or more here….”

# University of British Columbia: Recognizing Open in Promotion and Tenure | EDUCAUSE

“Driven by student government advocacy, one university’s change to its promotion and tenure guide highlights an important way institutions can incentivize open practices and provide a model for others to follow. Last year, the University of British Columbia (UBC) made a giant leap in the support of open education: the inclusion of language recognizing open educational resources (OER) in the institution’s “Guide to Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure Procedures at UBC.” Driven by effective student government advocacy, this change highlights the importance of tenure and promotion as a way for institutions to incentivize open practices and will hopefully provide a model for others to follow….”

# OpenMed – Opening up Education in South-Mediterranean countries

“Five partners from Europe and nine from South Mediterranean Countries are working together to widening participation and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) as a bottom-up approach to support the modernisation of the Higher Education sector in Morocco, Palestine, Egypt and Jordan….”