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PA GOAL Grants for Open Educational Resources (OER)

The second cycle of applications for PA GOAL grants encouraging open and affordable course materials in Pennsylvania opened on June 2.  These grants are funded by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.  They present a promising opportunity for Villanova faculty and departments to win resources needed to convert high enrollment courses to open educational resources (OER).

Grants will be awarded for designing or redesigning courses using OER, and for authoring OER, or substantially improving OER by creating problem sets, interactive modules, or assessments.

Projects applicable to courses offered in 2021–22 that fill gaps in existing OER or that benefit multiple courses, degrees, or institutions will be prioritized.

Lead eligible applicants must be continuously employed at a nonprofit institution of higher in Pennsylvania. The second cycle of applications will close on July 5, 2021. A total of $400,000 is available to be awarded.  Award amounts will be guided by budgeted costs, but there are caps on team member payments. Project deliverables must be completed by June 2022.  Now’s the time to ramp your project planning into high gear.


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Celebrating Faculty Adopting Open Educational Resources (OER)

The Affordable Materials Project celebrated the work of five faculty members who adopted open educational resources (OER) in the 2020–21 academic year.  OER are free, accessible, and openly licensed textbooks.

Alexander Diaz Lopez, PhD, Assistant Professor, Mathematics & Statistics; Stephanie Katz Linkmeyer, PhD, Assistant Teaching Professor, Chemistry; Sarvesh Kulkarni, PhD, Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering; Sue McFarland Metzger, Professor of the Practice, Information Systems; and Motjaba Vaezi, PhD, Assistant Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, were motivated to adopt OER for a variety of reasons not limited to the significant cost savings for students. Faculty noted that the award inspired them to try OER.

Dr. Katz Linkmeyer appreciated the seamless integration of OER with Lab Archives, and Professor McFarland Metzger’s integrated with Blackboard. They liked that digital OER incorporated interactive features, but were also available as PDFs for offline use or in print. Professor McFarland Metzger noticed that by giving students the OER they all were on the same page with course content. One faculty member attributed improved Course and Teacher Surveys scores, in part, to the adoption of OER.

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Several faculty remarked they supplemented OER with extra notes, problems, exercises, and figures to better align with their course objectives and that this was time intensive but worthwhile. Additional support for these projects would be welcome.

Students remarked that they liked having continued access to the book in contrast to e-book rentals. They admitted that the use of OER relieved students from weighing the risks involved in waiting to see if the assigned textbook is really used as a key resource for learning and assessments. They felt that the use of OER relieved financial pressures and hoped to see more widespread adoption of OER across the curriculum.

The 2021–22 OER Faculty Adoption Grant is accepting applications.  Visit this site to apply.

A recording of the full faculty forum, including student’s remarks is available to the Villanova community and a version with only the faculty presentations, is available for open viewing.


Linda Hauck is the Business Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library and Affordable Materials Project member.

 

 


 


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OER Textbooks: Perfect for the Age of COVID-19

Shortly after COVID-19 forced the shift to all online instruction, the library fielded a number of urgent student requests for help accessing electronic versions of their textbooks.  Some students may not have taken their textbooks home, but many were without because they shared textbooks or relied on print reserves.  Sadly librarians couldn’t be of much help because commercial textbook publishers fiercely protect their revenue streams. They only license electronic versions of their textbooks to students, not to libraries for sharing.

A few students benefited from free access to textbooks offered by VitalSource and RedShelf, commercial digital content providers. But many titles aren’t included in these temporary offerings.  Students had to scramble to find the money to rent electronic textbooks.

As this unprecedented semester concludes and faculty reflect on course materials selections, it is a perfect occasion to consider alternatives to commercial textbooks. Open textbooks are available online for free in multiple formats, are accessible, and have Creative Commons licenses that enable use and remixing without requesting special permission.

OER Commons and Open Textbook Library are tools for finding OER listed on our database A-Z page and on our OER guide. OER Commons is a search tool for a curated list of learning objects that are openly licensed. It includes not only textbooks but assignments, lesson plans and simulations. Open Textbook Library is a discovery tool for textbooks in use at multiple colleges or universities or which have been published by recognized scholarly societies. Some of these textbooks are reviewed and come with instructor materials.

Finding alternatives to commercial textbooks can be time consuming. Enlist the aide of your liaison librarian or use the OER help form.  Tell us about your current textbook or describe your ideal, and we’ll supply you with OER options.

The Office of the Provost in partnership with the Affordable Materials Project (AMP) is happy to announce the Open Educational Resources (OER) Faculty Adoption Grant, which is designed to encourage faculty to select free, openly licensed textbooks as primary course materials. This pilot grant program will award up to five grants in the amount of $1,000 to faculty members who adopt an OER textbook as the primary learning material for a new or existing course that they expect to teach during 2020-21 academic year. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

 


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Linda Hauck, MLS, MBA, is Business Librarian for Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 

 


 


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Open Education Week Resources for Faculty

By Linda Hauck

Open Education Week 2020 Logo

Textbook costs make  Villanova students feel “broke,” “frustrated,” “like a cash cow,” “stressie & depressie,” and “overwhelmed.” This is what Librarians tabling in Falvey for Open Education Week heard from the many students that stopped by to chat.

We also heard that students use a variety of coping mechanisms for dealing with high textbooks costs, including some recommended by the Affordable Materials Project, such as rentals, used books, or EZBorrow, but others less effectual, such as “stop buying books and hope for the best,” or less ethical, such as sourcing their textbooks from piracy websites.

Villanova faculty work diligently to source assigned course reading from library subscribed content, make extensive use of eReserves, prescribe the use of previous editions, and use other means to suppress materials costs. More can be done.

A few have adopted Open Educational Resources (OER), free, open licensed, accessible materials in a variety of formats that can be used, distributed, and edited to suit local educational objectives. The most widely used OER are textbooks designed for introductory courses such as those published by OpenStax.

To learn more about OER, check out our OER page or request a workshop at Falvey.

Additionally, faculty will find there are many webinars (filterable by language and online) happening this week offered as part of Open Education Week. You’ll be able to view programs on the basics of how to find suitable OER, panel discussions on switching to OER, workshops on using authoring tools, such as Libretext, and discussions on the intersection of OER with social justice, inclusive practices, and academic excellence.


Linda Hauck, MLS, MBA, is the Business Librarian at Falvey Memorial Library.

 


 


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Last Modified: March 2, 2020