For the first time ever, the three systems of public higher education in California are coming together to provide a California-centric Open Educational Resources (OER) conference. The 2021 Cal OER Conference will be held virtually August 4–6. 

Cal OER will focus on OER efforts and impact, broadly defined, across the state of California and especially across the state’s three public higher education systems, the California Community Colleges, California State University, and University of California. Conference tracks will include:

  • Students in OER
  • Advocating for OER
  • Sustaining OER 
  • Exploring OER
  • OER Impact and Efficacy
  • Open Pedagogy

The Michelson 20MM Foundation will be sponsoring this inaugural event. Being based in California, Michelson 20MM has supported numerous initiatives throughout the state to expand the reach of OER. This conference, with its focus on all three of California’s public higher education systems, is a unique opportunity to ensure that OER efforts across the state are working together and learning from each other. 

“California continues to be a leader on the issue of textbook affordability and openly licensed educational materials,” said Dr. Gary K. Michelson, founder and co-chair of the Michelson 20MM Foundation. “This conference will continue to push our visionary leaders to think about what’s next for OER in California and beyond. Our foundation is proud to support this opportunity to convene students, faculty, librarians, administrators, and staff that work in all areas of our state to grow the impact OER has for learners in our higher education system.”

The conference will be highlighted by three keynote addresses. On the first day of the conference, attendees will hear from Hal Plotkin, who served as Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary during the Obama administration (2009–2014). Previously, he was president of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees, where he initiated the nation’s first official college policy to support faculty use of OER. During his tenure, he sponsored the creation of the Community College Consortium for OER, which now boasts 91 member colleges in 35 states. Plotkin is a writer/activist, a founding editor of Marketplace on public radio, and the former Silicon Valley correspondent for

The second day of the conference includes a keynote by Lark Park, the director of the California Education Learning Lab in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. She served as a senior advisor for policy in the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., where she worked on higher education, health and human services, and childcare/early learning issues. In addition to her two decades of policymaking experience, she has worked as a business and technology journalist and a management consultant. She is the current chair of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee on the University of California, Board of Regents, and vice chair of a UC special committee dedicated to advancing innovation and entrepreneurship.

On the final day, Dr. Keith Curry will present. Dr. Curry is the president/CEO of the Compton College and Compton Community College District (CCCD). He is responsible for overseeing all departments and functions of Compton College and Compton District and serves as secretary for the CCCD Board of Trustees. Before becoming CEO, Dr. Curry served as interim CEO of Compton Community College District for two years. He served as the El Camino College Compton Center dean of student services from 2006 to 2011. Prior to joining the district, he worked at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) as director of the Early Academic Outreach Program. 

This conference is organized by a group of OER thought leaders including:

  • Delmar Larsen (UCD AggieOpen)
  • Peter Brantley (UCD AggieOpen)
  • Michelle Pilati (ASCCC OERI)
  • James Glapa-Grossklag (College of the Canyons)
  • Leslie Kennedy (CSU AL$)
  • Theresa Dykes (CSU AL$)
  • Shelli Wynants (CSU Fullerton)

We are pleased to support these organizers in their efforts to produce a unique event for the California OER community.

We hope you join us for this free event!

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation seeking to accelerate progress towards a more just world through grantmaking, operating programs, and impact investing. All activities are made possible thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon and inventor Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson.