Greetings from beautiful Denver, CO, where WCET Frontiers is joined by our Director of Open Policy, Tanya Spilovoy. Read on to catch up with Tanya on OER events, the Z Initiative, and how you can connect with her (either here at WCET 2017 or after).

Thanks Tanya!

~Lindsey Downs, WCET

Two exciting events are taking place this week, and if you’re following me on Twitter, you might be experiencing some FoMO because I’ve been tweeting up a virtual storm:

  1. The WCET Annual Meeting is in Denver, Co., and it’s the headquarters of higher education innovation, technology, and policy (Everyone here is doing interesting work).
  2. It is also International Open Access Week (So many retweetable events around the world.)

Because we at WCET want you in the loop, I wrote a blog post to help you fight the FoMO.  Here’s a blog post filled with all the newest, coolest, Open Access, Open Policy, and  WCET Z Initiative information so you don’t feel left out.

What is the WCET Z Initiative?

z-initiative-banner-2017The WCET Z Initiative connects institution-level OER champions, legislators, state systems of higher education, educational technologists, and national OER leaders. The Z Initiative is focused on research, practices and policies promoting the adoption, implementation, scalability, and sustainability of open educational resources, Z Courses, and Z Degrees. Essentially it is a practical approach to making OER work for your state or institution.

  • Open Educational Resources (OER) – OER are defined as “teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others.” Unlike traditionally copyrighted materials, these resources are available for “open” use, which means users can edit, modify, customize, and share them. This means that all students in a class have access to no-or low-cost learning materials on the first day of class.
  • Open Textbooks – Open textbooks are textbooks that are freely available with non-restrictive licenses. Covering a wide range of disciplines, open textbooks are available to download and print in various file formats from several websites and OER repositories. This means that all students in a class have access to no- or low-cost textbooks on the first day of class.

Activity around OER and Open

There is a lot of state/federal/international activity around Open Educational Resources and Open Textbooks.

  • Affordable Textbook Act-Introduced in the 114th Congress, seeks to reduce the cost of textbooks at U.S. colleges and universities by expanding the use of open textbooks (and other Open Educational Resources) that everyone can use, adapt and share freely.
  • The Department of Education invited me to participate in the Sept. 19 Open Textbook Symposium at the DOE in DC. I worked with about 30 people to brainstorm practical approaches to federal open textbook policy and implementation. The product of our work will be available soon.
  • More than half of states have adopted some sort of Open Education policy or initiative.oer word

Colorado: Open Educational Resources Council and Report

  • Colorado has laid the groundwork for a state-wide Open Educational Resources Initiative. For the past two months, I’ve been working closely with the Colorado Department of Higher Education staff and Open Educational Resources [OER] Council. I can’t wait to see what they do next.
  • Rhode Island announced it had saved students $870,000 on textbooks in just one year.
  • Santa Fe College announced $1 million in student savings from almost 300 course sections using OER.
  • University of North Dakota announced $3.7 million in savings over the last two years of their OER program.

Here are some ways you can get involved:

  1. Check out the WCET Z Initiative web page.
  2. I’m hosting an introduction dinner Thursday night, Oct 26, at the WCET Annual meeting for attendees who are interested in the Z Squad. Sign up at the registration table before 3 PM.
  3. Attend the OER sessions at the WCET Annual meeting (search “OER” on the WCET Annual Meeting App for session titles and times.) The
  4. Follow me on Twitter.

~Tanya Spilovoy

Photo from WCET17
Tanya Spilovoy, Francesca Carpenter, Tina Parscal at a WCET17 OER Session


Tanya Spilovoy

Tanya Spilovoy
Director, Open Policy
WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET)

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