Open Education Week 2017: The Potential of Open Education

Happy Open Education Week! 2017 marked the fourth year of celebrating international Open Education Week at Virginia Tech. The Open Education Week planning committee set goals to meet felt needs of faculty on campus and to encourage student communication with faculty regarding the impact of learning resources on student learning.

Cost is always an issue. The committee agreed that we wanted to do something more positive than focus on barriers to learning, so we chose the theme “The Potential of Open Education.” What is Open Education anyway?  Open Education includes pedagogies, practices, and resources which reduce barriers to learning.  “Open Education combines the traditions of knowledge sharing and creation with 21st century technology to create a vast pool of openly shared educational resources, while harnessing today’s collaborative spirit to develop educational approaches that are more responsive to learner’s needs.” Source: Open Education Consortium

Two faculty and graduate student oriented events featured local and invited speakers, including live and live-streamed:

Seven Platforms You Should Know About: Share, Find, Author, or Adapt Creative Commons-Licensed Resources

Thanks to Kayla McNabb for setup of the video below and Neal Henshaw for editing.

Creative Commons licenses allow no-cost access, redistribution, remix, and reuse with attribution. This session is for faculty (and others) who want to know about platforms which enable sharing, finding, creating, and/or adapting of openly licensed or public domain resources. This session featured live demos by expert users or creators of VTechWorks, Merlot, the Open Textbook Library, OER Commons, VT’s Odyssey Learning Object Repository, Overleaf (formerly WriteLaTex), Pressbooks, and the Rebus Open textbook editing community.

The event handout “Where to find, share, author and adapt Open Educational Resources? A Selection of No-Cost Platforms” is available here; also check out links from the Seven Platforms program.

The Potential of Open Educational Resources: Virginia Tech Faculty & Student Panel Discussion

Thanks to Digital Media Services for the video below and the University Libraries’ Event Capture Service for video production.

Virginia Tech Open Educational Resource (OER) authors, adapters, and authors and several students discussed the use, benefits, challenges, and opportunities related to using or adapting openly licensed course materials for couse use. Panelists included Jane Roberson-Evia (Statistics), Mary Lipscombe (Biological Sciences), Stephen Skripak (Pamplin), and Anastasia Cortez (Pamplin). Publishing expert Peter Potter (University Libraries), and students Mayra Artiles (Doctoral student, Engineering Education), and Jonathan de Pena (Senior, Finance) also joined the panel, moderated by Anita Walz (University Libraries).

Virginia Tech’s Student Government Association (SGA) designed the Open Education Week exhibit to educate and to solicit visitor input. The interactive exhibit features a range of required student learning materials including textbooks, homework access codes, software, and clickers, visual representations of data related to course material costs and student responses, information about open education options, a new Creative Commons brochure, CC stickers, and several interactive features. Students also have the opportunity to write a personalized message on an SGA-designed postcard to their professor, department head, or whomever they want to contact.

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A selection of resources used in the exhibit are linked here:

Florida Virtual Campus (October 7, 2016) 2016 Student Textbook and Course Materials Survey. Available here.

National Association of College Stores (2011) “Where the New Textbook Dollar Goes” Used with Permission of NACS. (No updated data available). Available here.

Senack, Ethan. (January 2014) Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: How students respond to high textbook costs and demand alternatives. U.S. PIRG Education Fund & the Student PIRGs: Washington, DC. Available here.

Senack, E., Donoghue, R. (2016)Covering the cost: Why we can no longer afford to ignore high textbook prices. Student PIRGS: Washington, DC. Available here.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as quoted by Popken, B. in “College Textbook Prices Have Risen 1,041 Percent Since 1977“ NBC News (August 6, 2015). Available here.

OEW word cloud
© Anna Pope, CC BY 4.0
OEW word cloud
© Anna Pope, CC BY 4.0

SGA also hosted a Multimedia Event. This student led engagement event featured multiple interactive stations where students could discuss, answer questions, take pictures, and write postcards. Two wordcloud prompts in particular were telling: “Where would your money go if you didn’t have to buy textbooks” — with the top two answers by far reflecting daily living expenses — “food” and “rent.”

Students were also asked to reflect on how they avoid buying full price textbooks. Responses included “Rent [textbooks],” “go without,” “hope for the best,” “borrow them from a friend,” and “buy used.”

OEW whiteboard
© Anna Pope, CC BY 4.0

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The Open Education Week at Virginia Tech planning committee for 2017 included: Anita Walz (Chair), Kayla McNabb, Quinn Warnick, Anna Pope, Anne Brown, Kimberly Bassler, and Craig Arthur.

Exhibit curators: Virginia Tech Student Government Association: Anna Pope, Kenneth Corbett, Spencer Jones, Holly Hunter, and Sydney Thorpe with the University Libraries’: Scott Fralin and Anita Walz

Special thanks for event support: Carrie Cross, Trevor Finney, and Kayla McNabb

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About Anita Walz

I am the Open Education, Copyright, and Scholarly Communication Librarian at Virginia Tech. I work with students, staff, faculty, and administrators and on a national level to inspire faculty to choose, adapt, and create learning resources which are more accessible to students. I am also the library's liaison for Economics, Mathematics, and Legal Studies. My work experience includes over 15 years in international, government, and academic libraries. My research interests include: economics of higher education, library involvement in open educational resource initiatives, library publishing, and effective teaching practices for college-age and adult learners.
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