Reflections on OpenEd17

I was fortunate to be able to attend the OpenEd17 conference in Anaheim, California this month with a group of CUNY faculty from various campuses and the Office of Library Services. The theme of the conference on open education was “Sharing, Gratitude and Hope” which gives you a sense of the powerful emotions that were floating through the sessions. It may seem strange to talk about emotions when reporting on a conference about open education, but throughout the presentations one heard passionate views of open education as a values movement striving towards equity, diversity and social justice.

Here are some take-aways from some of the conference presentations I attended. I hope others will join the conversation by adding Comments. The 3-day conference was chock-full of great presentations—I could only attend some of them. (No, I didn’t skip out to Disneyland!)

Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons, gave the first Keynote about the open education movement. He said, “Open has to be about more than the 5Rs – open also has to be about our values.” Those values, he said, are “access, equity, innovation, creativity, diversity and inclusion.” Merkley talked about Creative Commons as a Machine, which is built around CC: Search and a Movement, which goes beyond providing copyright licenses. Creative Commons is a community that “enables sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge through the provision of free legal tools.” Spreading the word on open access and open education will be furthered by the new CC Certificate program to teach open tools and practices to communities around the world.

The next Keynote was the most powerful of the conference for me, and for others, judging by the comments on Twitter. A panel of students from Santa Ana College presented personal stories on OER enabling them to succeed in college. If their textbooks were not free, they would not have the money to buy them, delaying their registration for courses and completing their degrees. The money saved on textbooks was used for essentials: food, transportation, paying bills. Otherwise, debt would pile up and curtail their education. Hearing this directly from students made an indelible impression. I came away feeling that OER is not just a good thing to do—it is imperative. Too many students will be kept from gaining an education by the barrier of textbook costs when this is a solvable problem. CUNY’s Shawna Brandle gave a presentation on the Kingsborough OER initiative which has focused on making the financial case to faculty.

Open Pedagogy was discussed at several presentations. The value of open assignments over disposable assignments was cited by several speakers. A panel on “Leveraging Partnerships to Bring Open Pedagogy to Scale” provided librarians’ perspectives on building programmatic support for open pedagogical practice. Open Pedagogy is made possible by the 5Rs. These librarians discussed the intersection between open pedagogy and information literacy. Amy Hofer of gave a shout out to our own Silvia Lin Hanick of LaGuardia Community College who has written about this. Librarians can open up their teaching practice by involving students in assignments, for example. A major point of the panelists’ presentations was that open pedagogy has been difficult to bring to scale at most institutions. Information Literacy and OEP are part of good teaching practices that should be integrated into instructional design of good teaching. Student work should be made visible and open as part of OER and open pedagogy. Students could be invited to design assignments and remix OER.

How to promote OER to leadership on campus was presented by a group from San Francisco State University. They emphasized that students tell the best stories. Two webpages  were created for student perspectives and a faculty showcase with personal narratives on experiences with OER. I was impressed by the high quality infographics and videos on these websites.

One afternoon was devoted to an Unconference during which we were free to engage in conversations on topics suggested by attendees. I attended a group on Research and Open Education. In answer to my question, “What can we measure?” (in addition to cost-savings), I received several ideas: levels of student engagement (faculty perception); how students access materials; course evaluations by students. This got me thinking about how we need more data on the effectiveness of OER. David Wiley spoke about the need for assessment data and construct-relevant behavioral data.

David Bollier gave one of two final keynotes on the Commons as a self-organized social system to manage resources. Cathy Casserly spoke eloquently and frankly about inclusion and diversity in the open education movement, and offered challenges on how we can do better to listen to diverse voices from around the globe and include them if we are true to a social justice mission. Our CUNY colleagues from BMCC Jean Amaral, Daphne Sicre, and Brenda Vollman discussed strategies for creating more diversity in the OER space and exploring success and challenges in developing culturally relevant and relatable OER content.

At the end of the conference, I was inspired by all the creative voices I heard. CUNY should be proud of the work faculty are doing in this movement. I was left thinking about sustainability, ownership of the scholarly infrastructure, and assessment of learning in open education. I am already eager to attend OpenEd18!

To view slides from several OpenEd17 conference programs:

Open Education at the College of Staten Island

This post originally appeared on the College of Staten Island Library Newsletter and was written by Asst Professor & Instruction Librarian / OER Liaison Anne Hays

We are very excited to announce our campus’s role in the CUNY OER initiative. During the 2017-18 academic year, the College of Staten Island plans to convert 13 courses with 53 sections into zero cost classes using Open Educational Resources. This semester, the library has adopted open educational resources (OER) for all of its sections of LIB102, a credit-bearing course that teaches students research skills using the library. And next semester, courses in Biology, Economics, and ESL English will follow suit. We hope that this large coordinated effort to create and sustain zero cost classes for our students is merely the beginning of a larger campaign to transform the way our students experience college.

But let’s take a step back for a minute and talk about OER. “Open educational resources (OER) are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes” (Creative Commons). Textbooks are often prohibitively expensive for students—students may have to make the tough choice between spending hundreds of dollars on books for a single course, or attempting to learn without the book. The CSI Library purchases textbooks for a two-hour reserve checkout, making those readings technically free, but admittedly students cannot make notes in these copies, nor can they read them from home. An OER textbook is one that its author has published under an open license, which allows users to access the book for free (digitally), and allows educators to revise, retain, remix, reuse, and redistribute the work for free. OER imagines a world where high quality educational materials are free for students, libraries, and professors, removing that expense as a barrier to learning. And indeed, “Studies show that 93% of students who use OER do as well or better than those using traditional materials, since they have easy access to the content starting day one of the course” (SPARC).

Continue reading “Open Education at the College of Staten Island”

Open Access Hulk: Best Interview Subject Ever!

The Open Access Hulk smashes paywalls the world over!

I’ve been thinking for a while (years, actually) about how complex open access outreach is — what sells one audience (say, faculty) on open access sometimes leaves another audience (say, students, or administrators) completely cold. I realized early that I needed to adjust my messaging for different audiences, and I’ve made many adjustments — some hits, some misses — over the years.

I recently wrote a column about the challenges of open access outreach, featuring snippets of an interview with the greatest (or at least most SMASHING) open access advocate of all time: the Open Access Hulk (@openaccesshulk on Twitter). The column hasn’t appeared yet (fingers crossed the editors don’t decide it’s too goofy, too CAPS LOCK’d to publish!), but the full Twitter interview is now archived on Storify. (On Twitter too, of course, but it can be difficult to follow a long exchange on Twitter itself.)

The Open Access Hulk is not our most syntactically sophisticated colleague, but he’s very informed, very perceptive, and very wise, and he had incisive, Continue reading “Open Access Hulk: Best Interview Subject Ever!”