Inaugural Open Education Fellows Announced

The University of Texas Libraries is pleased to announce the cohort in the Open Education Fellows pilot program. A competitive application process yielded many high impact proposals, and the selection committee undertook the difficult task of narrowing the outstanding crowd to officially name three Open Education Fellows who will convert their courses to zero-cost required materials through the adoption of existing open educational resources (OER) and one team of Open Education Fellows who will develop their own OER to serve students at The University of Texas at Austin and beyond.

Please join us in congratulating the Adoption / Adaptation Fellows, Dr. Joel Nibert (Department of Mathematics), Dr. Diane McDaniel Rhodes (School of Social Work), and Dr. Amy Kristin Sanders (School of Journalism and Media), as well as the team of Authorship Fellows, Dr. Joshua Frank, Dr. Delia Montesinos, and Mina Ogando Lavin (Department of Spanish & Portuguese). Their work over the next year will impact students enrolled in the following courses:

  • M 358K: Applied Statistics
  • SPN 367D: Business in Hispanic Life and Culture
  • SW 334: The Practice of Social Work in Organizations and Communities
  • TC 302: The Surveillance State

The average price of a new, print textbook is a little over $65 at The University of Texas at Austin, per the University Co-op, but electronic resources and access codes can often cost students much more. Open Education Fellows aim to cumulatively save students enrolled in their courses thousands of dollars each semester by switching from commercial textbooks and other materials to OER and other freely available resources. The open licenses assigned to OER allow students to access course content immediately and at no cost. Beyond this benefit, these open licenses also permit instructors to make copies and customize materials in ways that better serve students’ interests and their learning outcomes. Authorship Fellows will apply open licenses to the works they create and contribute them back to the OER ecosystem for other instructors to discover, adopt, and adapt.

The Libraries will provide Fellows with professional development opportunities to support their activities in finding, evaluating, and/or creating OER as well as stipends to offset the time and effort that we recognize these activities take. In addition to OER adoption and creation, Fellows will share their experiences by participating in Libraries’ events and collect anonymous student perceptions or outcomes data to understand the impact of adopting OER and other no-cost materials in their courses.

The Libraries hopes that the work undertaken by the Open Education Fellows will serve as a model to other instructors who are interested in reducing the financial burden of course materials costs for their students. Vice Provost and Director of the University of Texas Libraries at The University of Texas at Austin Lorraine J. Haricombe has been a longtime advocate for open education and OER adoption.

“When faculty remain informed of OER initiatives at their institutions, there is an increased awareness of these resources and an increased reported likelihood of consideration of future OER adoption,” says Haricombe. “I am delighted to see UT’s first cohort of Open Education Fellows and Authors who will work with UT Libraries to unleash their creative endeavors to innovate how we educate our students.”

The cohort of Open Education Fellows will begin their work in January 2022. Adaptation / Adoption Fellows will integrate OER into their courses by Fall 2022, and Authorship Fellows will have a usable draft of their OER ready by Spring 2023.

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