Open Education Week 2020 – Getting Involved!

Over the years, open education – the use of free, openly-licensed educational materials and the teaching practices that have developed around them — has continued to grow in impact and importance.

Last February, OpenStax, a publisher of open textbooks based at Rice University, reported that free OpenStax textbooks had saved students $177 million dollars in 2018. In North Dakota, the state auditor’s office reported that a statewide OER initiative had resulted in savings of over $1 million for students. Also in 2018, Affordable Learning Georgia reported saving students more than $18 million dollars per year.

These are just a few examples of the jaw-dropping numbers that can be achieved by deploying open educational resources in place of traditional textbooks.

And the benefits include more than just cost savings. Students have been shown to be less likely to drop, fail or withdraw when the burden of high textbook costs is lifted from their classes. With free textbooks, affordability is a non-issue, students have the book on the first day of class, and outcomes, including grades, retention rates and graduation rates improve.

In a study of over 21,000 students at the University of Georgia, researchers found that drop/fail/withdraw rates decreased across the board, but most dramatically for the most vulnerable student groups (i.e. students on Pell grants, students from underserved populations, and students attending part-time.)

The message is clear: open educational resources level the playing field for students and promote equity in education.

At TAMU-CC, open education is moving forward. A select group of faculty are already using open educational resources in their classes; others are actively learning about them, participating in communities of practice in preparation for beginning their own experimental forays into this realm.

The library recently sent out a survey for faculty to help us find those pockets of OER use on campus and we look forward to seeing what the results show us. And a new committee, the Affordable Learning Tools committee, has been formed and will begin meeting soon. These are all signs that the open education movement is taking hold on our campus.

And so we come to Open Education Week, March 2-6, 2020. You’re interested and you want to know more. What can you do to participate?

I’ve created a guide that features a selection of online Open Education events happening next week, along with some other resources to help you learn more about open education. Visit the guide here to learn more:

I hope you’ll make time in your week to participate in at least one or two of these online events. And as always, I’m happy to talk with you about open education anytime!

Lisa Louis