2/3 of postsecondary students skip buying textbooks due to their price, US PIRG found. When the average price of a textbook is $105.37, 25% of students are forced to work extra hours and 11% forgo meals simply to afford course texts, according to the Education Data Initiative. As our 2024 Open Educational Resources (OER) Spark Community Advisors have shown through their commitment to course material access, however, this does not have to be the case if campuses leverage OER.

What Are Open Educational Resources?

Open educational resources, or OER, are 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. As a result, the affordability of instructional materials, efficacy of faculty instruction, and equitable access to educational opportunities are all improved by the adoption of OER.

Michelson 20MM’s Continued Commitment to OER

For over a decade, Michelson 20MM has been committed to furthering the awareness and adoption of OER. To this day, we continue to make investments in OER through the Michelson Spark Grants program

During the 2024 funding cycle, Michelson 20MM sought projects that support scalable strategies with potential to create positive impact at scale and inform public policy. Specifically, the cycle advanced the following focus areas: 

  • California: 
    • Support the implementation of California’s historic investment in the Zero Textbook Cost degree program in the California Community College (CCC) system with a focus on capacity building, professional development, and scaling OER marketing. 
    • Support the development of and/or the rollout of OER programs throughout the University of California (UC) system with a focus on capacity building, professional development, student advocacy, and OER marketing. 
    • Mobilize student and/or faculty participation in passing OER policies at the UC, CCC, and/or California State University (CSU) systems.
  • National: 
    • Execute public education campaigns targeting media outlets with national, broad reaching readership to educate college and university administrators, policy makers, and the broader public on course material affordability issues within higher education, with a focus on California. Preference will be given to projects that target media outlets whose focus is beyond education.  
    • Research and public education around automatic textbook billing, with an emphasis on student experience and consumer protection for policy makers. We are particularly interested in research on the prevalence, types, and impact of automatic textbook billing that is occurring within the three California public higher education systems.
    • Investigate how coursemarking and course material price transparency impact student behavior and/or student success. With multiple models of coursemarking, including zero textbook cost and ranges in low textbook costs, we are interested in understanding how students navigate these models and how it impacts the decisions they make. 

Identifying Scalable Solutions: The Spark Community Advisors

No one better understands the needs of the postsecondary community than those who directly implement, use, and benefit from OER. To ensure the Spark Grants funding cycle’s investments are community guided and effective infusions of support, Michelson 20MM enlisted the assistance of four Spark Community Advisors. 

Please welcome the 2024 OER Spark Community Advisors!

Andi Adkins Pogue
Public Services Librarian and OER Specialist, Cosumnes River College (CRC)

Andi Adkins Pogue is a Public Services Librarian and OER Specialist at CRC in Sacramento. For nearly three years, she has been heading up CRC’s efforts to become a zero-textbook-cost (ZTC) college. Under her leadership, CRC offered more than 70% of its classes as ZTC in fall 2023. Pogue is CRC’s liaison for the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges OER Initiative. She also serves as chair of CRC’s Affordable Educational Resources Committee. Pogue has authored and remixed OER and has helped many CRC faculty remix their own OER on the LibreTexts platform.

Angela Chikowero
Open Access Collection Strategist, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Library

Angela Chikowero is an Open Access Collection Strategist at the UCSB Library. She earned her Masters in Library and Information Science in 2010 from Dalhousie University, Canada, with a thesis on the effects of cognitive style and curiosity on multitasking. Chikowero has worked in academic libraries for over ten years. 

She was a vital member of the UCSB Library’s Textbook Affordability Taskforce in 2015, she has also been a Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) Open Education Leadership Fellow since 2021. Chikowero’s SPARC capstone project, “Identifying OER Needs for High Enrollment Classes,” was geared towards an environmental scan of her institution to assess faculty OER utilization and student awareness. The goal was to explore and develop OER initiatives at UCSB. 

Chikowero’s research interests include information access and diversity, library leadership, and change management. She is also immensely interested in OER, which has been an essential aspect of her experience over the last ten years. She looks forward to exploring and developing the OER initiative at UCSB.

Una Daly
Founding Director, Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCOER)

Una Daly was the Founding Director of the CCCOER at Open Education Global, working with hundreds of community colleges across North America in developing open educational programs to enhance equitable outcomes for underserved students. A leader in open education for well over a decade, she served as the OER Library Services Manager for the California Open Online Library (COOL4Ed), a statewide repository of low-cost, peer-reviewed open textbooks, and was an adjunct faculty member at Foothill Community College in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most recently, Daly was the founding co-director of the Open for Antiracism faculty development program focused on helping California community college faculty to transform their classrooms to be anti racist through the adoption of open educational practices and resources.

Genavieve Koenigshofer
Student, University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Genavieve Koenigshofer (she/her) is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UCSD studying developmental psychology and public policy. She has spent over three years in leadership at Generation Up, a youth-led nonprofit based in California dedicated to education reform, where making college affordable has always been a top priority. Throughout her four years at UCSD, Koenigshofer has worked with student organizations on campaigns to expand OERs and she frequently uses OERs in her classes.

We are immensely grateful for the Spark Community Advisors and eagerly anticipate sharing their recommendations in the weeks to come.

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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