SCOOP: Open Education Week 2022/
March 03, 2022
Ten years ago, Open Education Week was launched to raise awareness of and highlight innovation in open education. Each year, educators, practitioners, and librarians present webinars, release resources, and host events to promote the importance of open education, including open educational resources (OER). For Open Education Week this year, Atla is hosting the ACRL Virtual OER and Affordability Roadshow for our members.
Open education and OER are also areas of focus for the Atla Scholarly Communication & Digital Initiatives Committee. For this month’s SCOOP, Committee members shared their thoughts on why theological and religious studies libraries should engage with open education and OER and what their institutions are doing to implement OER:
Why are Open Education and OER Important?
- “Since Covid has made many theological schools adopt a hybrid or fully remote model, it’s important for theological librarians to offer OERs to bring the library to students when students can’t go to the library. OERs are also extremely cost-effective when hard copies of textbooks are in the $100 range or difficult to find.”
- “Study of theology and religion should be open to all who desire it irrespective of financial means. Making that possible is a moral imperative for seminaries and divinity schools. Although tuition is the first and largest barrier to access to such education, the cost of learning materials is non-trivial, and we shouldn’t assume that students can afford them. Librarians and faculty can help bring those costs down by developing and promoting OER.”
- “Open education is important for theological and religious studies for the same reasons it is important for any other field – open education and OER remove barriers to student learning. It allows for greater collaboration and quicker dissemination of information.”
- “The money savings is a quantifiable way to demonstrate value to interested people. However, the value of OERs extends beyond cost savings. For some, the cost savings may make the difference that makes academic success even possible. For example, students who rely on student loan refunds to purchase textbooks are often unable to start the first day of class with their textbooks in hand. Additionally, openly licensed content opens the door for faculty to adjust textbooks and educational content to match their aspirations for the class and creates new pedagogical opportunities in which students can participate in content creation.”
- “We pride ourselves on being a field with a rich history of scholarship but getting access to that scholarship is incredibly cost-prohibitive. Whether that means the thousands of dollars it takes to buy books and journals or the cost of traveling to locations with collections relevant to their research, many scholars are simply not able to afford the high price of theological research. As a result, the field is missing out on valuable contributions and risks becoming narrower and more distanced from the people that it most impacts. Religion and theology, more than most other academic disciplines, claim to be for the people out in the world, not just for those in the academy. Open education (and the creation and support of OERs) is an important step towards making religious and theological education more equitable and more accessible.”
What is a Recommended First Step for Engaging in Open Education?
- “A great first step is to attend workshops such as Atla webinars, conferences, or the Roadshow to learn how other institutions use OERs and determine how their outcomes will benefit your institution.”
- “[Engaging library and institutional administrators] to identify the development of OER as an institutional need and bring open education into job descriptions and priorities.”
- “SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) [provides resources] for free at sparcopen.org. There are lots of ways to learn about OA and OER at their site.”
- “Talk to other people (librarians or faculty) that are successfully implementing OER programs. Find ways to network with others to get ideas and not have to ‘reinvent the wheel.’”
- “After gaining a basic understanding of what constitutes an OER, a first step would be diving into an OER to check it out!”
What Open Education Goals Does Your Institution Have for the Next Year?
- “More classes at the seminary will add an OER to their syllabi by the fall semester.”
- “Starting in the Fall of 2021, we began by educating the library staff on OA and OER. In the spring of this year, we started to educate the faculty on those same topics through lunch and learns, and workshops. The final stage will be to connect librarians and willing faculty members to adapt, adopt, or create OERs for their Fall 2022 classes.”
- “Our library offers an ‘Alternative Textbook Initiative’ grant to faculty that are willing to replace their traditional commercial textbooks with alternatives available to students at no cost. This grant is offered annually, and up to three faculty members can be selected each round.”
- “A few faculty at my institution will be able to receive institutional grants to create OERs.”
- “[We have] ongoing projects that create openly available materials that can be used for educational purposes. These projects include content such as digital exhibitions with digitized images from our special collections, recorded sermons from our archives, and video workshops produced by our reference librarians.”
We would love to hear from our members and others as well, so please share with us your thoughts and ideas by responding to this brief survey. We will compile and share responses in a future SCOOP column.
Open Education and OER are regular topics on the SCOOP. Revisit these columns, which include links to more resources on open education and OER:
- For Fair Use Week 2022, we reviewed the new Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OER.
- In September 2021 we explored best practices for diversity and accessibility in OER.
- For last year’s Open Education Week, we reviewed the resources available to locate and create OER.
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