University Libraries at Virginia Tech will celebrate Open Education Week March 19 - 23 to recognize the move toward more meaningful learning by incorporating open educational resources in teaching and learning.

Open education resources (OER) include freely accessible and openly licensed academic materials that help students overcome the challenge of high-cost textbooks and other course materials.

Open Education Week embraces the philosophies, tools, and practices that offer better learning resource access, student empowerment, deeper learning, and faculty-student engagement. These practices include teaching and learning processes that use, adapt, and create open education resources shared under a Creative Commons license. For example, open education practices include course assignments, such as creating and sharing blogs, ePortfolios, videos, textbooks, websites, code, and Wikipedia entries, which instructors can evaluate in real-world contexts.

The University Libraries will begin Open Education Week with a panel discussion, “Getting Comfortable Working in the Open,” March 19 from 11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. in the Newman Library Multipurpose Room. Panelists will discuss their motivations, opportunities, and challenges they encounter in taking nontraditional and open approaches to teaching, learning, and publishing. The panel will be livestreamed and live tweeted with the hashtag #openlearning18.

Internationally renowned open education speaker, researcher, author, and psychology professor Rajiv Jhangiani will give the keynote speech “Open Educational Practices: Equity, Achievement, and Pedagogical Innovation,” March 19 at 1:10 p.m. in the Newman Library Multipurpose Room. Jhangiani teaches and serves as the special advisor to the provost at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia, as well as an ambassador with the Center for Open Science in Charlottesville, Virginia. Much of his research centers on the scholarship of teaching and learning, in addtion to open educational practices. The keynote will also be livestreamed.

On March 20 from 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. in the Newman Library Multipurpose Room, Jhangiani will help attendees better understand the shift away from closed pedagogical and research practices during his workshop “Unlocking the Power of Experiential and Active Learning.”

In addition, the University Libraries will host a number of events throughout the week on such topics as critical theory, tools and practices, creative commons, and textbook affordability. These include a discussion on creating eBooks by digital publishing specialists Corinne Guimont and Robert Browder on March 20 from 9 - 10 a.m. in the Newman Library Multipurpose Room and a Wikimedia Commons Share-a-thon lead by Guimont from 2 - 3:30 p.m. in the Newman Library Multipurpose Room.

Virginia Tech faculty member and Ph.D. student Sarah Umbarger-Wells, a first-generation college student, said affordability has shaped her career. “As an undergraduate student, I chose a major that I could ‘afford’ to study. While I was very interested in the sciences, I knew those courses and the related material were much more expensive. I could not afford the textbooks and other related materials. As I’ve worked with students over the years, I always wonder who else might be making choices based on affordability. Those are the students I worry about.”

To provide more opportunity to adopt and use open education resources, the University Libraries is hosting a crowdsourcing campaign “Create Freely Available Textbooks” through Jump March 26 - April 23. Funds will supplement the Open Education Initiative Faculty Grant program. The University Libraries, along with communications students, will hold a social media fundraising push on Twitter and Facebook, to tell stories about students and faculty who are in need of or have benefitted from open education resources. All content will be streamlined with #textbookbroke.

Open education, copyright, and scholarly communication librarian Anita Walz said there are promising practices for better student equity and engagement.

“Open educational practices have potential to transform higher education by leveraging faculty academic freedom, pedagogies which enhance student motivation, and open content licenses and information architectures, which provide equitable access to course materials,” said Walz.

To learn more about using, adapting, or creating open education resources, contact Anita Walz at at the University Libraries.


Written by Alec Masella

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