Waltz Across the Texas OER Landscape

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

“Waltz across Texas with Me!” This session provides an interactive overview of statewide research on OER adoption and use at Texas institutions of higher education. Attendees will participate in some Texas trivia to set the landscape and will also have the opportunity to share initiatives in their own states. 

 

Presenters

Judith Sebesta, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Digital Higher Education Consortium of Texas (formerly Virtual College of Texas), a consortium of community colleges sharing eLearning resources to increase access to higher education and improve student success. Judith has served in a variety of roles at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, including as Program Director for Distance Education, Director of Innovation, and Project Director for Open Educational Resources. She also was founding Executive Director of the Institute for Competency-Based Education based at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Prior to shifting her career focus to the broader landscape of policy and practice in online education and alternative learning models, Judith enjoyed a fifteen-year career as a professor of theatre and department chair, teaching at University of Evansville in Indiana, University of Arizona, University of Missouri, and Lamar University. Judith holds a B.A. in Communication Arts from Austin College, an M.S. in Theatre from Florida State University, and a Ph.D. in Theatre History & Criticism from the University of Texas at Austin.

Extended Abstract

This session will provide an interactive overview of a statewide research project on the use of Open Education Resources across institutions of higher education in Texas. 

Following a national trend, the adoption and use of OER in Texas has increased over the past decade. State policy makers and educators alike are focusing on the potential for OER to support student access, affordability, and success.  A report on the feasibility of creating an OER repository in Texas, submitted to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) in July 2018, recommended promotion of OER to reduce costs for students and improve learning outcomes. OER is a promising strategy for meeting the goals of the state’s current higher education plan, 60x30TX.  The Virtual College of Texas (VCT), not unlike OLC, is nearing its 25th anniversary and is using this milestone to develop a strategic plan that includes initiatives to support OER across the state. 

While the THECB and VCT have some knowledge regarding OER activity at institutions of higher education across the state, particularly related to schools participating in the Achieving the Dream OER initiative, most of that knowledge is anecdotal. In order to better guide future initiatives in Texas, particularly those funded by state resources, more empirical, quantitative data is needed. Therefore, the THECB and VCT decided to collaborate with the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) to survey institutions of public higher education on OER use. This session will provide an overview of the survey data, analysis, and results. 

First, presenter Judith Sebesta, Executive Director of VCT, will “dance” with attendees in a brief game of Texas trivia to set the broader landscape using an interactive polling platform. 

Next, she will present the findings of the OER in Texas Higher Education Landscape Survey. This extensive research project has sought to capture several dimensions of OER adoption and use in the state, including: OER policies and programs in place, OER leadership and advocacy, and the impact of OER on teaching and learning and on institutional costs. Research questions include: 
•    How and to what extent are two- and four-year institutions across the state using OER?
•    Where is there the most promise, in terms of the greatest uptake, use and impact of OER within and across institutions? 
•    Where do the biggest gaps lie in OER adoption, use and impact within and across institutions?
•    What key issues, challenges, and incentives/supports are affecting OER adoption and use for institutions? (What is making OER happen, and what is making it NOT happen. How is OER being funded, and how can it be more funded?)
•    What supports (financial, policy, infrastructural, relational or other) will enable increased uptake, adoption and use of OER?
•    Who has ownership of OER in the state and what does that structure look like?
The quantitative analysis of the data collected will encompass correlational and comparative analyses of survey findings across groups (e.g., by institution type, institution size, percentage serving low income students, by discipline or program), as well as predictive analyses to identify which indicators seem to predict OER adoption. The analysis will also include comparative, thematic analysis of the qualitative data, using NVivo software.

This analysis will result in a report, to be disseminated nationally, that will include a synthesis of the survey findings, including a description of the state of OER uptake and use within and across institutions in Texas, key opportunities and challenges impacting that use, and a set of recommendations and considerations to address identified needs. Attendees at this session will receive a copy of the report executive summary and will be able to download the full report, which will be made available under an open Creative Commons license. 

Finally, Sebesta will “waltz” with attendees to help envision future initiatives and to share best practices around OER initiatives in their own states and at their own institutions.  

Key session objectives 
•    Engage attendees with interactive presentation of information
•    Provide an overview of research on OER adoption, creation, use, and policy across Texas
•    Discuss connections to initiatives in attendees’ states