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Photo: Jemel Agulto, OpenStax

The Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) is designing the future of education. The nonprofit is on a mission to improve learning and collaboration in the education sector through social science research, research-based innovations, and by assisting schools, colleges, and universities in developing open education environments. This spring, students all over the world transitioned to online classes as campuses shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s uncertain whether schools will be inviting students to return for physical classes in the fall. Remote learning will likely continue for some time, and ISKME is helping educators integrate open educational resources (OER) into virtual classrooms. We’re  proud to award ISKME a Michelson Spark Grant to support this work and accelerate the use of OER for distance education.

For those still unaware, OER are freely licensed materials that reside in the public domain and include textbooks, courses, tests, software, and more. College students, who are usually forced to spend hundreds of dollars on assigned textbooks, are major proponents of free open materials, particularly now as many find themselves impacted by the  economic crisis. However, instructors also stand to benefit since open educational resources provide greater flexibility to customize instructional materials to better meet the needs of their students. Many have cited this as a leading benefit allowing for  more relevant, engaging and meaningful learning. This tailoring is especially useful in a distance learning environment where keeping students attentive can be a challenge. With remote learning before us, there  is no better moment for OER, and we’re proud to be supporting ISKME in facilitating greater adoption.

For the past several months ISKME has been collaborating with a select group of  OER and online education champions across California community colleges to capture and document successful models for bringing OER into remote learning. The project will yield a series of webinars and a guidebook for faculty and campus administrators that outlines best practices for integrating OER into online education. Well aware of the timely need for such resources, ISKME is accelerating the project timeline to deliver initial findings and recommendations to educators before the start of classes in the fall. The goal is to meet institutions’ long-term goals for distance learning and help create emergency remote learning plans for the  future.

“We’ve long been a proponent of OER as free, open materials bring down the cost of education and improve the classroom experience for both students and instructors,” says Gary K. Michelson, M.D., Founder of Michelson 20MM. “We started on this path by funding the leading OER publisher in the nation, Openstax, and now that circumstances have forced us to move learning online, we want to further empower college instructors to seamlessly integrate OER into their revised curriculums so that more students have access to no or low cost high-quality learning. It’s the right thing to do.”

For the last decade, Michelson 20MM has advocated for the adoption of OER as a way to improve access and equity in higher education. OER achieves this by lowering educational costs which can serve as a barrier to entry, particularly for students of color. We are excited to back ISKME in its latest efforts, and look forward to supporting them with  dissemination efforts for its OER guidebook in California and beyond. 

Founded by Dr. Gary K. Michelson and Alya Michelson,  The Michelson 20MM Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that equitable postsecondary educational opportunities that lead to meaningful careers are accessible to all.  At the cutting edge of higher education, the foundation helps forward-thinking entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and organizations close the opportunity gap.

We are currently seeking proposals for a funding round focused on our Smart Justice initiative. To learn more please visit our webpageor sign up for notifications using the form below.