Yesterday’s events marked the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s inaugural celebration of Open Education Week. As luck would have it, the UH system holds Spring Break during the global event’s official dates (March 27-31). Nonetheless, faculty, staff, and students attended presentations and workshops focused on many aspects of Open Educational Resources (OER) adoption at UHM.
The events were split into three clusters beginning with morning talks in Kuykendall Auditorium. UHM Outreach College Dean Bill Chismar offered opening remarks for the day. Dean Chismar touched on the local and global importance of expanding OER adoption throughout the UH system. He also spoke to the recently announced OER grant program focused on supporting faculty as they move their high-enrollment high-cost textbooks to OER alternatives.
The morning then moved into my presentation outlining the current state of students and textbooks at UHM. We’ve been working on a strategy for the OER initiative that can provide targeted support for projects as well as broader impact for the UH system as OER begins to take hold. We will be accomplishing this through a balanced approach consisting of OER tool and process development, broad advocacy for OER adoption and creation, and connecting our work to the global open education community. Slides from my talk can be found here.
To follow the OER strategy talk, an invited panel representing UH community colleges shared their work lowering textbook costs and supporting faculty adoption of OER. The excellent panel consisted of OER Steering Committee members Leanne Riseley (LCC), Wayde Oshiro (LCC), Carol Hasegawa (HCC), and Sunny Pai (KCC). Much of the session focused on hard numbers of student dollars saved, courses converted to OER, and the growing number of faculty and lecturers at the community colleges that have begun incorporating OER into their instruction. The panel’s presentation slides can be found here.
Following the panel, UHM Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Debbie Halbert gave a compelling talk entitled Academia as a Culture of Sharing. Debbie pointed to the restrictions of copyright when publishing work and shared examples of ideas that have been borrowed and built upon, but were fraught with legal complications when they were reused by others. An advocate for open copyright licensing (such as Creative Commons), Debbie argues that the culture of academia is based on sharing ideas and work. Her Prezi presentation can be found here.
Around 12noon we moved into lunch sessions at Hamilton Library that were intended to attract students and faculty who aren’t already involved in OER adoption at UHM. Mindy Boland from ISKME gave a great overview of the OER Commons repository for finding useful OER, and walked through the powerful (and free!) OER content authoring and remixing tools on the site.
The second midday event featured UHM ASUH President Roxie Kamoshida calling for student action supporting OER. Her presentation touched on potential cost savings for the highest enrollment undergraduate courses, and maintained that students often sacrifice their performance in a course based on high textbook costs and restricted access to learning content. Roxie finished with a call to action for all UHM students, asking them to spread the word about OER with their student colleagues, ask their instructors if they will move to an OER textbook, and leave requests for OER use in course evaluations.
After a break for fresh air, we moved into afternoon workshops beginning with a demo and overview of the Pressbooks authoring platform being supported at UH. As a UH system-wide platform, all faculty and staff (and student!) can request access to OER Pressbook sites for adapting and developing OER for courses. This will be the recommended platform for recipients of the first wave of OER grants through the UHM Outreach College, as it allows legally-and-technically open content to flourish.
We ended the day’s formal sessions with a conversation about the future of training and certifying UH faculty and staff in skills needed for OER adoption and reuse. As a capacity-building measure, leveling up the skills of folks within the UH system will be increasingly important as interest and demand for OER specialists grows at each campus. Interesting, sustainable ideas were brought to the table, and we will continue to work towards an approach that can serve everyone in the UH system.
Students at the Front
A theme that persisted throughout the day was that of remembering “why” we are pushing for OER adoption at the University of Hawai’i. OER offers us limitless opportunities to better serve our students, without which the university would not exist. If we are to equip our students with skills needed to succeed in their next professional or academic ventures, it begins by involving them in the curriculum. We need content and learning tools that involve students as co-creators, reinforcing communication and collaboration skills that will be demanded by technology-enabled jobs of the future.
Mahalos to all the faculty, staff, and students who helped make our celebration of Open Education Week a success. Out events could not have been possible without the support of UHM Library, UHM’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), and UHM’s ASUH.