By Cailyn Nagle and Marissa Martinez

Throughout the years, our focus on making sure every student has the opportunity to succeed without the barrier of high course material costs continues to guide our work—2023 was no exception. Since the rollout of Governor Newsom’s $115 million investment in Zero Textbook Cost degrees in the California Community College (CCC) system, we have doubled down in our efforts to build out capacity within the system, making the most of this historic investment. At the same time, we have kept our fingers on the pulse of the course materials landscape more broadly to ensure students and educators are getting a fair deal.  

Kicking Off the Year with a Very Damp Creative Commons Bootcamp 

In line with building capacity, 2023 is bookended by two Creative Commons (CC) Boot Camps. During the very damp week in January, CCC educators from across Northern California met at Skyline Community College to earn certifications in CC licenses, which underpin much of the OER ecosystem. By building an understanding of their use, faculty can act as resources for their peers on their respective campuses. Over the course of the week-long boot camp, faculty worked on OER projects and shared their experiences on the final day before heading back to their colleges. We are incredibly pleased to be able to partner with Creative Commons and the CCC Academic Senate’s Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI) committee to support the second CC Boot Camp in Southern California this December.  

Launching the Inaugural Class of Student Fellows

Katie Wagman delivers a comment during the UC Regents meeting

Katie Wagman delivers a comment during the UC Regents meeting.

Students have always been the driving force behind the textbook affordability movement. This year, we were thrilled to more fully weave that ethos into our program by launching the first class of Michelson 20MM Student Fellows. Over the course of the year, Katie Wagman, a sophomore at UCLA, and Allen Kuo, a second-year San Diego Miramar College student and UCLA transfer student, learned organizing and advocacy skills through monthly workshops, received one-on-one mentoring, and participated in other professional development opportunities. 

Sacramento’s Policy Lunch and Learn

Cailyn Nagle (left), James Glapa-Grossklag (center), and Allen Kuo (right) at a Sacramento Lunch & Learn.

The core of the fellowship centers on each fellow developing and then running a local textbook affordability campaign in their own community. Kuo’s project focused on developing ties and outreach to CCC student leadership to increase awareness of their local ZTC programs. He also joined Cailyn Nagle, OER Program Manager, and James Glapa-Grossklag, Dean of Technology at College of the Canyons, in Sacramento to educate our elected leaders and their staff on the state of textbook affordability, ZTC, and OER in California. Wagman’s project focused on building student and librarian representation and power at the University of California system’s rollout of their textbook affordability initiatives. Her work was showcased at two OER conferences. Due to the success of the program, we are excited to expand it to each of Michelson 20MM’s program verticals.

Revamping the CCC Hub

While the OER Commons CCC Hub has been a resource to California Community College faculty since 2018, after collecting feedback from the CCC OER community, we prioritized updating The Hub to better address the community’s current needs. The updates include the creation of subject-specific groups, where faculty can discuss projects, new ideas, and ask for feedback in a forum style. Additionally, we are developing a webinar series to present sessions that inform hub community members on current topics in OER and higher education, while also teaching members best practices in OER, such as open licensing, finding and curating our materials, and more. The goal of  this series is to inform and encourage hub members to relay the information back to their campus communities. Save the date for the first webinar on January 31, 2024!

Welcoming the Spark Grant Recipients

The 2023 OER Spark Grants funding cycle continued to support the rollout of the ZTC programs at the CCC system and drew attention to the rise of automatic textbook billing in higher education. In addition to these focus areas, we also sought research into student data privacy in digital course materials. Spark grantees include ISKME’s project focused on ​​leveraging Universal Design for Learning guidelines to ensure OER is more accessible to students with access and functional needs, Creative Commons Southern CA Bootcamp, and a project from SPARC to center the voices of students around automatic textbook billing programs. While outside of the Spark Grant cycle, we were also excited to support the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse to research student data privacy in the course materials landscape. 

Ending with Conference Season 

Breakout Discussion During Creative Commons Global Summit

Breakout sessions during the Creative Commons Global Summit in Mexico City.

Within the OER world, the end of the year is conference season. This year we sponsored four conferences through our OER program. During the summer, we attended the CalOpen conference, where we had the opportunity to dig in on the open community in the Golden State. In early October, the Michelson 20MM team traveled to Mexico City to meet with leaders, creators, and advocates from across the world and throughout the open movement to discuss Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the Creative Commons Global Summit. The following month, the Open Education Conference brought together OER practitioners, advocates, and researchers for three days of virtual convening, learning, and community. As part of our sponsorship, we were able to bring eight University of California faculty and one UC student leader to the conference. To close out the year, we traveled  to the High Desert to meet with leaders from across the CCC system at the Community College League of California’s Annual Convening. 

As 2024 approaches, we look forward to continuing to build community, student power, and the open movement. 

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation working toward equity for underserved and historically underrepresented communities by expanding access to educational and employment opportunities, increasing affordability of educational programs, and ensuring the necessary supports are in place for individuals to thrive. To do so, we work in the following verticals: Digital Equity, Intellectual Property, Smart Justice, Student Basic Needs, and Open Educational Resources (OER). Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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