Tag Archives: open access

OER Faculty author spotlight: Dr. Jocelly G. Meiners

In celebration of Open Education Week, UT Libraries is proud to spotlight a few of our talented faculty members who are on the forefront of the open education movement as open educational resource (OER) authors! Today we’re featuring Dr. Jocelly G. Meiners, Lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. 

Dr. Meiners is a native of San José, Costa Rica. She attended the University of Texas at Austin and obtained a BA in French and Astronomy, an MA in French Linguistics, and a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics. She is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and specializes in teaching courses for Heritage Spanish learners. Her research interests include pragmatics and emotion in second language acquisition, heritage Spanish learners and pedagogy, as well as linguistic attitudes and language maintenance regarding Spanish in the US. She currently serves as co-director for the Texas Coalition for Heritage Spanish (TeCHS)

Dr. Meiners shares her experiences creating and contributing to the Heritage Spanish community website, where instructors of Heritage Spanish can connect with each other, share classroom resources they’ve created, browse resources created by others, and stay updated on relevant professional development opportunities. 

Do you recall how you first became aware of open educational resources (OER) or the open education movement more broadly?

“I think I first learned about OER through COERLL (Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning). Carl Blyth, the director, was my professor and one of my mentors during graduate school, so I learned about COERLL from him. It was exciting to hear about the creation of COERLL and that it would be hosted by UT.”

What was your primary motivation in building Heritage Spanish?

“As the population of Spanish heritage learners increases throughout the US, the demand for Spanish courses designed specifically for heritage learners keeps growing. However, there aren’t any “one size fits all” textbooks for teaching these students, since the heritage student populations around the country are so diverse and have such different needs. Therefore, a lot of instructors are constantly creating their own materials to serve their students, so we wanted to create a platform where instructors can share OER and find materials that they can adapt and use in their own classes.” 

What has been the greatest benefit of creating and using OER as an instructor?

“The greatest benefit as an instructor is being able to access materials that other dedicated instructors have created and implemented successfully in their classes, and then modify and adapt those materials to serve my own students. Also, sharing OER is a great way to give back, contribute to the field, and support other instructors, especially those who are getting started teaching heritage learners.”

What was the most challenging part of creating Heritage Spanish?

“The most challenging part, which we are still working on, has been building the community and gathering instructors’ work to share on our website. Although many instructors are creating amazing content, they often don’t know about Creative Commons licenses and how to share their work. However, we have several projects to help with this, particularly our annual summer workshop, where instructors can learn all about finding, creating, and sharing OER and also learn techniques and strategies for teaching heritage Spanish.”

How have your students responded to the material? What feedback do you receive from other users?

“Students appreciate using materials that are designed specifically for them, with topics that are really engaging to them, and also of course the fact that OER are free! Instructors who use OER love having access to such a great variety of resources and being able to use them freely. Instructors are often amazed that they can find such great materials for free on our website.”

What would you say to an instructor who is interested in creating or adapting OER but isn’t sure how to get started?

“For heritage Spanish instructors I would say get familiar with our website, check out what other instructors have created, get in touch with us, sign up for our newsletter, join our community, and come to one of our workshops! For other language instructors, COERLL has lots of great resources, and navigating the Creative Commons website and creating your CC license is easy. Just start by looking at other people’s work and you will realize you can do it too. It feels great to share and know that you are helping your community of instructors.”

Want to get started with OER or find other free or low cost course materials? Contact Ashley Morrison, Tocker Open Education Librarian (ashley.morrison@austin.utexas.edu).

OER Faculty Author Spotlight: Dr. Amanda Hager

In celebration of Open Education Week, UT Libraries is proud to spotlight a few of our talented faculty members who are on the forefront of the open education movement as open educational resource (OER) authors! We’re kicking off this series with Dr. Amanda Hager, who teaches several courses in the Department of Mathematics, including M 302 (Introduction to Mathematics), M 325K (Discrete Mathematics), and M 305G (Preparation for Calculus) in addition to the MathBridge dual credit program

Dr. Hager has been a Longhorn since 2011. She earned her Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Iowa and worked at the United States Military Academy at West Point. She is passionate about liberal arts education, college readiness, faculty welfare, modular origami, and Olympic weightlifting.

Dr. Hager was generous in sharing her experiences creating OER with us in the interview below.

What OER did you create or adapt for your courses?

“For Introduction to Mathematics, I created a set of webpages that are substitutes for lectures and contain a combination of text, illustration, video, and informal quizzes. These are used for asynchronous instruction during the pandemic, and they can be used in a flipped classroom. I’ve also authored problem sets for homework and study.”

What was your primary motivation in leveraging OER for your courses?

“I realized that I was going to strange lengths to justify the existence of paid textbooks in my courses, artificial-seeming measures such as posting homework exercise numbers rather than the text of the questions in my LMS so that students would have to open the book to get the homework questions. I would cherry-pick pieces of textbooks that I liked, telling students to avoid other parts that I found were unpopular to them or confusing, constantly having to talk with the students about whether the book was confusing or not.

I eventually surveyed students in my UT course and dual-enrollment course, and I discovered that less than half of students were purchasing the required textbook. There were also a non-trivial number of students who purchased the textbook and never opened it. I realized that whatever positive results I was seeing in this course, either student satisfaction or learning gains, had little to do with owning the textbook.”

What has been the biggest benefit of using OER?

“I am no longer embarrassed that I am requiring an expensive textbook and then only covering approximately half of the content in it. The students receive essential content only, and I am proud to be providing a course experience that is not only affordable but is clean and sensical.”

What was the most challenging part of making the switch?

“Creating my own content. I suppose there must have been easier ways to get the job done, but I learned HTML, CSS, and Adobe Illustrator in order to create webpages. I studied web accessibility. I produced my own videos. Good video content is labor-intensive.”

How have your students responded to the material? If applicable, did you notice a change before and after using OER? 

“Anecdotally, they seem to like having the information they need exactly where they need it. No book, no clumsy web portals. I get a lot fewer questions about what they need to know and not know for exams, because the answer is everything they’ve been given.”

What would you say to an instructor who is interested in OER but isn’t sure how to get started?

“OER is not just free books. It’s about the power of collaboration. One educator writes a text, another builds aligned assessments, still another creates video tutorials, and the whole is so much more than the sum of its parts. But adopting open resources and using them is probably the easiest way to get started dreaming about what you can create to take your teaching to the next level.”

Want to get started with OER or find other free or low cost course materials? Contact Ashley Morrison, Tocker Open Education Librarian (ashley.morrison@austin.utexas.edu). 

Happy Open Education Week!

This week, March 1 – 5, we observe Open Education Week, a global celebration of the open education movement. 

What is open education? The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) defines it as “resources, tools and practices that are free of legal, financial and technical barriers and can be fully used, shared and adapted in the digital environment.” Open education expands access to the resources of higher education (like open textbooks!) and enables the sort of collaboration that can engage students in new ways (like contributing to those open textbooks!). 

This week, we’ll share more blog posts highlighting some examples of the ways that education is being transformed by open culture, including by our very own faculty here at UT Austin. But today, we’ll start with part of the “why” that many open practitioners find compelling. 

It won’t shock you that cost remains a significant barrier to the pursuit of higher education. While the biggest costs, like tuition and housing, are generally beyond the reach of most instructors to impact, the cost of course materials is tangible and significant. At UT, students enrolled full-time in the fall and spring semesters can expect to spend $714 per year — and depending on their major, it could be much more. 

Open educational resources, or OER, are learning objects, like textbooks, websites, images, videos, and more, that are generally free of cost AND free of the legal barriers that restrict instructors from customizing them for their students’ needs. Replacing expensive course materials with OER can save a student tens to hundreds of dollars per course. 

We also want to celebrate our instructors who are going the extra mile to make education financially accessible. Are you a student who has taken a course without expensive course materials? If you’ve had an instructor who increased access and equity by selecting free or low cost course materials for class, nominate them as an Affordable Education Champion by Wednesday, March 3. UT Libraries and the Senate of College Councils will recognize some instructors in promotional materials on our websites and social media. All instructors will be made aware of their nominations. 

See more information on how high course materials costs impacts students, and contact Ashley Morrison, the Tocker Open Education Librarian, if you’d like to know more or get help locating OER for your discipline. (See a larger version of this infographic here.)

Creating Space in the Public Domain for Feminist Literature

Earlier this year, the UT Libraries hosted a panel discussion called, Can I Use That?: Remix and Creativity. The event was the brainchild of Juliana Castro, a graduate student in the School of Design & Creative Technologies. She worked with librarians Becca Pad, Gina Bastone and Colleen Lyon to plan a panel event that dove into issues around rules of copyright and reuse as they relate to creative fields of inquiry.

The Yellow Wall-Paper

The panelists for the event included: Dr. Carma Gorman, Design; Dr. Philip Doty, School of Information; Dr. Carol MacKay, English; and Gina Bastone, UT Libraries. The question and answer session of the panel was particularly lively as participants engaged with our experienced panel on a variety of reuse issues.

The capstone of the event was an opportunity to bind a Cita Press public domain book, The Yellow Wall-Paper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. UT Libraries is pleased to work with scholars like Juliana Castro who are interested in exploring new ways to freely share information, and is excited to help her introduce Cita Press.

Learn more about Cita Press.

BACKGROUND

Public domain is a legal term used to refer to visual or written works without intellectual property rights. Works enter the public domain for different reasons, including expiration of the rights, forfeiture, waiver, or inapplicability, as in the case of pieces created before an existing legal framework. At the end of the eighteenth century, copyrights lasted only 14 years in the USA, with an option of renewing for another 14 years. However, copyright terms have expanded dramatically over the course of the twentieth century in the USA.

Since the passage of the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998, most copyrighted works do not re-enter the public domain until 70 years after the death of the author. These extensions are created to benefit creators’ interests, but not only do they oftentimes fail to do so, but can stifle creativity, free speech, and the democratic exchange of ideas.

In the last three centuries, women have gradually made their way into the publishing industry as active writers, often exploring topics considered inappropriate or even immoral for women to address. The printing press was developed by Johannes Gutenberg c.1439. By 1500, printing presses were operating all throughout Europe; by 1539 Spanish colonists were printing in Mexico; and by 1638 English colonists were printing in New England. However, until the early nineteenth century, writing was still a suspect occupation for women. Because often times writing was viewed as unfeminine, the few women who had the educational background to write works of public interest would often publish anonymously, using masculine pseudonyms to avoid jeopardizing their social status.

Art and literature have been sexist arenas, and as Joanna Russ points, for centuries women have had to fight outright prohibitions, social disapproval, lack of role models, isolation, and other forms of suppression in order to get their work published and recognized.  Most of the nineteenth century’s feminist literature is now in the public domain, but many of these writings are not being republished by commercial publishers. When publishers do reprint public-domain texts, they rarely do so in open-access book formats. Because commercial publishers invest in curating and marketing well-designed collections of reprints, they frequently commission original annotations or introductions from scholars, which in turn enables them to copyright and profit from their new editions.

In contrast, Internet-based archives such as Google Books, HathiTrust, and Archive.org make an enormous corpus of public-domain books available for free online, but do so as scans or in poorly designed digital formats. Moreover, internet archives usually do not make their collections particularly navigable or appealing to non-scholarly audiences, nor do they make it properly designed and easy to print.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Cita’s purpose is to celebrate and make accessible the work of female authors, and inspire people to explore open publishing formats. In the future, I plan to extend Cita’s reach as an active open-source editing platform that is committed to intersectionality and that welcomes diverse voices and backgrounds by republishing new works, especially in Spanish, including those of living authors who are willing to open-license their works.

As is the case with most successful open-source projects, Cita needs user-contributor engagement in order to grow. The existing collaborative community is likely to extend their work towards creating new material, and potential new contributors will be encouraged to join in at different levels of the book-creating process, including cleaning texts, reformatting HTML, designing covers, laying out texts, marketing the site, etc. I plan to apply for small grants that can cover certain parts of the book making process, such as formatting and free distribution of printed copies. But Cita’s success will ultimately rely on the efforts of those who are interested in celebrating and making women’s art and literature more accessible.

Please follow, join, contribute and share: citapress.org

Juliana Castro is a Colombian graphic designer and editor, and  a graduate student in the School of Design & Creative Technologies at The University of Texas at Austin.

Open Access in 2017

As we prepared for Open Access (OA) Week 2017, it’s been exciting to think back about how far we’ve come in the last several years. For those who aren’t familiar, OA Week is a celebration of efforts to make research publications and data more accessible and usable. Just ten short years ago we lacked much of the infrastructure and support for open access that exist today.

Open@TexasBy 2007 we had implemented one of the core pieces of our OA infrastructure by joining Texas Digital Library (TDL). TDL is a consortium of higher education institutions in the state of Texas. TDL was formed to help build institutions’ capacity for providing access to their unique digital collections. That membership continues to grow and TDL now hosts our institutional repository, Texas ScholarWorks, our data repository, Texas Data Repository, our electronic thesis and dissertation submission system, Vireo, and is involved in our digital object identifier (DOI) minting service that makes citing articles and data easier and more reliable. These services form the backbone of our open access publishing offerings.

Our institutional repository, Texas ScholarWorks (TSW), went live in 2008. TSW is an online archive that allows us to share some of the exciting research being created at the university. We showcase electronic theses and dissertations, journal articles, conference papers, technical reports and white papers, undergraduate honors theses, class and event lectures, and many other types of UT Austin authored content.

TSW has over 53,000 items that have been downloaded over 19 million times in the past nine years.

In spring of 2017 we launched the Texas Data Repository (TDR) as a resource for those who are required to share their research data. TDR was intended to serve as the data repository of choice for those researchers who lack a discipline-specific repository or who would prefer to use an institutionally supported repository. TDR serves as a complementary repository to Texas ScholarWorks. Researchers who use both repositories will be able to share both their data and associated publications and can provide links between the two research outputs.

For several years the library has been supporting alternative forms of publishing like open access publishers and community supported publishing and sharing. Examples of this support include arXiv, Luminos, PeerJ, Open Library of the Humanities, Knowledge Unlatched, and Reveal Digital. These memberships are important because it’s a way for us to financially support publishing options that are more financially sustainable than the traditional toll access journals. Many of these memberships also provide a direct financial benefit to our university community, like the 15% discount on article processing charges from our BioMed Central membership.

In an effort to lead by example, the UT Libraries passed an open access policy for library staff in 2016. This is an opt-out policy that applies to journal articles and conference papers authored by UT Libraries employees. With this policy the library joins dozens of other institutions across the U.S. that have department level open access policies.

This past year we started a very popular drop-in workshop series called Data & Donuts. Data & Donuts happens at the same time every week, with a different data-related topic highlighted each week. All the sessions have a shared goal of improving the reproducibility of science.

Data & Donuts has attracted over 340 people in the past nine months which makes it one of our most successful outreach activities.

We have another reason to be optimistic this year. The Texas state legislature passed a bill this summer that should expand the awareness of and use of open educational resources (OER). SB810 directs colleges to make information about course materials available to students via the course catalog. If there is an online search feature for the catalog, the college has to make it possible for people to sort their search by courses that incorporate OER. The catalog functionality is set to go into effect this spring, so we’ll be keeping an eye on how things develop over this academic year.

We will continue the momentum we have generated from the launch of TDR, our Data & Donuts series, and our support of open publishers. We are putting together topics for Data & Donuts this spring, planning events associated with open access and author rights, and continuing to improve our online self-help resources. We are committed to offer assistance to any faculty, staff, or student at the university who has a question about open access.

We encourage department chairs and tenure and promotion committees to talk with their colleagues and/or engage with us in discussions about what open access means for their discipline.

UT Libraries will continue to explore new publishing models and initiatives to share UT’s rich scholarship and discoveries, to find ways to increase access to open educational resources, and to support future faculty and scholars in accessing, using and curating the growing body of data that is central to the research enterprise.

 

Open to Change? Change to Open.

Year of Open

As the world grows larger and closer at the same time, how do we ensure that we grasp the opportunities for sharing knowledge in ways that precipitate the ideas and innovation that will the global community?

Open access has been put forth as at least part of the solution to democratize information and expand knowledge through a lowering of barriers to access.

So what is open access? According to the statement of the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative: “By open access, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software or use them for any other lawful purpose….” Scholarly Communications Librarian Colleen Lyon has provided a more lengthy explanation of the idea at the Open Access blog.

Vice Provost Lorraine Haricombe came to the UT Libraries with a set of informed priorities for expanding the campus understanding of the concept of open access. Having developed a comprehensive strategy for the libraries at the University of Kansas — spearheading the effort to make it the first public university in the U.S. to adopt a campus-wide OA policy — she’s brought a reserve of energy and ideas to Austin to convert open agnostics to the cause.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that there are some nascent allies on the Forty Acres as the university investigates flipped classrooms and distance learning opportunities, and to that end, the Libraries have joined forces with Texas Learning Sciences to establish a year of awareness-building on concepts of open access with the hope of generating some grassroots momentum toward a campus-wide embrace of open practices.

The “Year of Open” kicked off in September with BYU adjunct faculty and co-founder of Lumen Learning David Wiley, who provided a promising overflow crowd with a high level explanation of open access and discussed the rationale for moving from a resource ownership model to the shared model that is at the heart of the open content movement. Wiley helped develop Lumen Learning as an open access advocacy organization dedicated to increasing student success and improving the affordability of education through the adoption of open educational resources by schools, community and state colleges, and universities. Video of Wiley’s presentation is available for viewing at the Texas Learning Sciences “Year of Open” page.

On November 5, the second “Year of Open” event will feature David Ernst, Chief Information Officer in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, as well as Executive Director of the Open Academics Textbook Initiative — a program developed to improve higher education access, affordability and success for all students through the use of open textbooks. Ernst created and manages the Open Academics textbook catalog — a single source for faculty to find quality openly licensed textbooks — and he and his colleagues are also developing a toolkit to help other institutions interested in starting their own open textbook initiative on campus. He’ll talk to attendees about how the adoption of open textbooks can help overcome the impediments of access and cost to improve student success outcomes.

After the holiday break, the “Year of Open” continues with events in the spring, including talks by Georgetown University professor and Executive Director of Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship Randy Bass (February), and Bryan Alexander (April), senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), as well as a panel on open access and the future of scholarly communication, also tentatively scheduled for April 2016. Check back with the Libraries calendar for coming details on these and other “Year of Open” events.

Support OA? Earn a Trip to Brussels

OpenCon2015

The Libraries are looking for a current grad student or post-doc to become a serious advocate for Open Access on the Forty Acres with a unique opportunity to attend an international conference in Europe later this fall.

OpenCon 2015 FlyerThe Libraries are offering the chance to earn a travel scholarship to attend OpenCon 2015 taking place in Brussels, November 14-16, 2015. OpenCon is an academic conference that brings together students and early career academic professionals from across the world to learn about the issues, develop critical skills, and return home ready to catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information — from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital data.

The selected applicant will receive a $2500 scholarship to attend the conference — an amount which conference planners have designed to cover all expenses.

This conference is an excellent opportunity to learn more about open access, open education and open data, and to learn how to advocate for these issues. Last year’s meeting convened 115 students and early career academic professionals from 39 countries in Washington, DC.  More than 80% of these participants received full travel scholarships, provided by sponsorships from leading organizations, including the Max Planck Society, eLife, PLOS, and more than 20 universities.

To find out more about how to apply for the scholarship, visit the Libraries’ Open Access blog.

Texas Exes Dallas Chapter Welcome Vice Provost

Vice Provost Lorraine Haricombe with Libraries' Advisory Council member Ken Capps.

Last week, the Texas Exes Dallas Chapter hosted a reception featuring Dr. Lorraine Haricombe, Vice Provost and Director of University of Texas Libraries.

Lorraine shared her highest priorities to:

  • Strengthen UT Libraries core mission to support UT’s mission of teaching, research and learning in new and creative ways.
  • Fill key positions to align with new roles for libraries in teaching, learning and in the digital environment and to expand collaborative partnerships on campus (and beyond) and re-purpose prime real estate in our libraries to meet the expectations of 21st century learners.
  • Position UT Libraries to help transform teaching, learning and research at the University through open access to ensure that the ground breaking research conducted at our University will reach beyond the Forty Acres, nationally and globally.

She also expressed her excitement as UT Libraries is set to open 20,000 sq. ft. of repurposed space in the Perry-Castañeda Library, our main library, where we will partner with the University Writing Center, the Sanger center and others to provide a rich and energizing learning experience for our students.

To close, Lorraine reminded everyone, “supporting the Libraries has the potential to touch the lives of every student, staff and faculty member to ensure that what starts here really does change the world.”

Looking forward, UT Libraries plans to partner with Texas Exes Chapters across the country to host similar events that showcase the work being done at UT. If you are interested in hosting a similar event, please contact Gregory Perrin.

Open alternatives

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Even as the debate over the issue of open access v. traditional publishing continues apace, there are options on the periphery for accessing creative or original content without having to consider the mortgage of one’s financial future (or soul).

DJ and musician Moby announced earlier this week the relaunch of his website Moby Gratis which provides a license-free catalog of his music for use in independent, non-profit and generally low-budget creative enterprises.

Following up on his announcement Mashable has a short list of some of additional options.

What open access content sites do you use?

(h/t Mashable)