Guidance on Open Educational Practices during School Closures: Utilizing OER under COVID-19 Pandemic in line with UNESCO OER Recommendation

“With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) rapidly spreading worldwide, several countries have initiated several strategies to stop the spread of this virus, including school closures. UNESCO stated that, as of 17 May, almost 1.21 billion learners were affected, accounting for 69.3% of the world’s student population. Particularly, China was the first to adopt the policy of “Disrupted Classes, Undisrupted Learning” by providing online, distance and remote teaching. However, several educational challenges appeared during this unexpected critical situation of COVID-19 outbreak. For instance, in this first-ever application of pure long-term online learning (without face-to-face learning or blended learning), both teachers and learners should not feel that they are left alone during the teaching and learning processes. Additionally, new effective pedagogical approaches are needed to keep learners motivated and engaged during this long period of online learning. To overcome the above challenges, new teaching approaches are needed. In this context, several researchers suggested the use of Open Educational Practices (OEP) and Resources (OER) to provide engaging and interactive experience. UNESCO (2019) also stated that: the judicious application of OER, in combination with appropriate pedagogical methodologies, well-designed learning objects, and the diversity of learning activities, can provide a broader range of innovative pedagogical options to engage both educators and learners to become more active participants in educational processes and creators of content as members of diverse and inclusive Knowledge Societies”. Additionally, UNESCO (2019) provided five objectives that should be focused on facilitation of OER adoption, namely: (i) Building capacity of stakeholders to create access, re-use, adapt and redistribute OER; (ii) Developing supportive policy; (iii) Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER; (iv) Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER; and (v), Facilitating international cooperation. Therefore, this handbook discusses the use of OEP and OER during COVID-19 outbreak through global vivid stories and experiences, and in line with the five UNESCO objectives. It also discusses OER competencies for OEP. Finally, this handbook provides guidelines to both teachers and learners to facilitate OEP and OER application….”

Crowd-Sourced Unlatching of Curricular Books: A Joint Pilot by the California State University, Knowledge Unlatched, and the Internet Archive – Cal schol.com

“BPCs (Book Processing Charges) to publish specific books Open Access (OA) usually are reserved for front-listed items and funded by one or a few sponsoring organizations. More often than not, such funds underwrite scholarly monographs that do not directly substitute for required course textbooks. BPCs do not typically cover the republication or relicensing (“unlatching,” “unlocking,” or “flipping”) of back-listed and out-of-print titles, even though such titles represent a massive amount of scholarly knowledge restricted by copyright, confined to print format, and yet still used in course curricula. This presentation will unveil an innovative, collaborative pilot between the California State University (CSU), Knowledge Unlatched, and the Internet Archive. As a global leader in Affordable Learning $olutions to save students money on textbooks, CSU proposed this pilot, provided a list of 18,000 ISBNs from required readings across its 23 campuses, and supplied matching kick-starter funds. Knowledge Unlatched combed through the CSU ISBN list to identify backlisted titles and negotiate pre-agreed price points at which publishers would unlatch these books. Finally, the Internet Archive ensured the availability of a digitized copy of the book on its Open Library platform, made it available for check-out via Controlled Digital Lending, and also coordinated book-specific, crowd-funding campaigns through a centralized list and on decentralized book record pages. Even publishers stand to benefit from this novel approach to OA publishing with its built-in capacity to gauge demand and monetize books that are not currently sources of revenue.”

Supporting Students: OER and Textbook Affordability Initiatives at a Mid-Sized University

“In 2018 the Alabama Commission on Higher Education kicked off a statewide program to increase awareness and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) at colleges and universities. Spurred by the efforts of ACHE, the University of North Alabama committed to OER and textbook affordability programs and included OER adoption as a key aspiration in their 2019-2024 strategic plan “Roaring with Excellence”. With support from the president and provost of the university, Collier Library adopted strategic purchasing initiatives, including database purchases to support specific courses as well as purchasing reserve copies of textbooks for high-enrollment, required classes. In addition, the scholarly communications librarian became a founding member of the OER workgroup on campus. This group’s mission is to direct efforts for increasing faculty awareness and adoption of OER. This presentation will discuss the structure of the each of these programs from initial idea to implementation. Included will be discussions of assessment of faculty and student awareness, development of an OER grant program, starting a textbook purchasing program, promotion of efforts, funding, and future goals.”

Supporting Students: OER and Textbook Affordability Initiatives at a Mid-Sized University

“In 2018 the Alabama Commission on Higher Education kicked off a statewide program to increase awareness and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) at colleges and universities. Spurred by the efforts of ACHE, the University of North Alabama committed to OER and textbook affordability programs and included OER adoption as a key aspiration in their 2019-2024 strategic plan “Roaring with Excellence”. With support from the president and provost of the university, Collier Library adopted strategic purchasing initiatives, including database purchases to support specific courses as well as purchasing reserve copies of textbooks for high-enrollment, required classes. In addition, the scholarly communications librarian became a founding member of the OER workgroup on campus. This group’s mission is to direct efforts for increasing faculty awareness and adoption of OER. This presentation will discuss the structure of the each of these programs from initial idea to implementation. Included will be discussions of assessment of faculty and student awareness, development of an OER grant program, starting a textbook purchasing program, promotion of efforts, funding, and future goals.”

61% of All Courses at UA Cossatot are Textbook-Free | University of Arkansas Cossatot Community College

“UA Cossatot is proud to announce that 61% of all courses do not require a textbook. Five years ago, UA Cossatot became the first two-year college in Arkansas to abandon its traditional campus bookstore and create an internal textbook rental and open educational resource (OER) program. UA Cossatot quickly became a state leader in the OER movement with faculty using more open resources than any other two-year college in Arkansas. The college also became the first in the state to join the Open Textbook Network, which elevated its use of OER….”

Cengage Reaffirms Commitment to Student Affordability Following Termination of McGraw-Hill Merger Agreement – Cengage | Cengage

“Cengage, an education and technology company, today announced that its merger agreement with McGraw-Hill has been terminated by mutual agreement due to a prolonged regulatory review process and the inability to agree to a divestitures package with the U.S. Department of Justice. In conjunction with the announcement, Cengage reaffirmed its commitment to student affordability and the company’s ongoing transformation to digital….”

Cengage/McGraw-Hill Merger Called Off – SPARC

On May 4, 2020, textbook publishing giants Cengage and McGraw-Hill announced that they have called off their proposed merger, which would have created a $5 billion publishing giant and turned the college textbook market into an effective duopoly. Announced just over a year ago, the proposed merger has drawn widespread opposition from the higher education community— including students, consumer groups, libraries, universities, and bookstores—along with growing concern from House and Senate lawmakers and antitrust authorities.

“Defeating this merger is a win for students, faculty, and preserving competition in the textbook marketplace,” said Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for SPARC. “In an industry already rife with anticompetitive practices, preventing this merger averts dire harms that could have caused textbook prices to rise, innovation to dwindle, and student data to be exploited.”

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David Porter on the Benefits of Open Educational Resources as Millions Shift to Online Learning – Michael Geist

“Millions of Canadians are at home, schools are closed, and Canada is undergoing an unprecedented shift to distance or online learning. Adapting course materials to the online learning environment can create significant new challenges for teachers and students alike. Open educational resources (OERs) provides a model for convenient, cost-effective access with no copyright barriers to worry about, expensive texts to purchase, or restrictions on adaptation, customization or re-use. David Porter, who has been a leader in open and distance learning since the 1990s, joins the podcast to discuss how the current shift to online learning places the spotlight on the benefits of OERs and open textbooks….”

Proposed Priorities, Requirement, and Definitions-Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education-Open Textbooks Pilot Program

“The Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education proposes priorities, requirement, and definitions for the Open Textbooks Pilot program conducted under the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.116T. The Assistant Secretary may use one or more of these priorities, requirement, and definitions for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and later years. We intend this action to further develop and identify programs and practices that improve instruction and student learning outcomes, as well as increase access, affordability, and completion rates of students seeking postsecondary education degrees or other recognized credentials as a result of the development, enhancement, and use of open textbooks (as defined in this notice)….”