By Ryan Erickson-Kulas

Last month the Michelson 20MM Foundation was able to attend the 19th annual Online Teaching Conference hosted by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. Educators from throughout the nation gathered to learn about the latest practices and innovations around online teaching!

Open Educational Resources

As a former educator, I know how important it is for faculty to have access to resources that allow them to bring knowledge to their students. For community college faculty, one great tool can be open educational resources. Open educational resources (OER) are freely licensed materials that reside in the public domain, and can include textbooks, full courses, tests, software and more. For faculty who are teaching online OER provides digitally focused materials that lead to increased student outcomes. Studies have attributed a 12.3% grade increase to the use of OER for Pell eligible students. An additional benefit of OER is that they are free which proves highly impactful as a recent study shows 7 in 10 students in California community colleges have experienced food insecurity, housing insecurity, or homelessness during the previous year.

As a foundation we were able to present in two separate sessions around the increased adoption and usage of OER. On the 2nd day of the conference Edwin Hernandez and Jenifer Vang, two of our Student Advocate grantees, spoke about the incredible work they are doing to create a toolkit for students to lobby faculty and administration to make the switch to OER. The finished product will be released in the fall and will serve as a great resource for California State University and California Community College students as they inform faculty on the benefits of switching to OER.

On the third day of the conference, our OER and Innovation Fellow, Dr. Barbara Illowsky, also presented her work with the California Virtual Campus – Online Education Initiative (CVC-OEI) in creating over 35 Canvas course shells for OER textbooks. Dr. Illowsky shared how these shells can be modified to fit an individual’s instructor needs. The session also emphasized how the issue of textbook affordability is an equity issue for students. It helps them stay in school and work toward degree completion by eliminating the financial concerns around getting educational materials.

The Michelson 20MM Foundation and its initiatives are made possible by the generous support of Gary K. Michelson, M.D. and his wife, Alya Michelson.

To learn more about our work in textbook affordability and the other initiatives of our foundation please sign up for our mailing list via the form below.


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