Friday, August 18, 2017 News

University of Missouri Announces OER Initiative

Open Education

In early August I had the opportunity to visit my alma mater, the University of Missouri (“Mizzou”), and discuss the University of Missouri (UM) System’s new OER Initiative with campus stakeholders. I spent 6 years at Mizzou between my undergraduate and master’s degree, and my experiences there played a large role in my decision to become an Open advocate. I’m excited to share more information about Mizzou’s plans for OER and my visit to campus.

In June, the UM System, comprised of four campuses in Missouri including SPARC members Mizzou and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), announced a new initiative to expand the adoption of open educational resources. The UM System will have a task force on OER to put ideas for the initiative into action. The System task force will work in coordination with each of the four campus OER task forces made up of faculty, students, librarians, bookstore personnel, and instructional design staff. Mizzou has committed to offer financial incentives to faculty to support the transition to OER, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. UM System President Mun Choi articulated a broad vision for where the initiative may aim system wide. “Let’s shoot for the moon! Why not have all of our freshman courses available through open source?” he told the Missourian.

When the announcement came out, I had just started as Open Education Fellow at SPARC, and as a former student leader who worked on these issues at Mizzou, I jumped at the opportunity to visit the campus. My visit carefully planned by the Mizzou Librarian for Outreach and OER, Grace Atkins, and we were joined by the OER Coordinator at UMKC, Scott Curtis. I’ve always believed that librarians are important—and sometimes unsung—heroes on campus. When I was a student leader, I worked with the Mizzou Library to promote Open Access and Open Education. It was then that I realized just how important librarians are to students and faculty. This was proven again when I went back to campus.

My visit was packed with a variety of meetings with administrators, librarians, and campus staff to discuss the benefits of OER and implementation of the newly announced initiative. I gave a presentation open to anyone on campus on OER and shared best practices for campus programs. I found that wherever I went, campus stakeholders were excited to learn about OER programs at other campuses and the tactics used for increasing OER use and adoption. One of the most exciting parts of the trip was the Q&A session after my presentation, where Grace, Scott, and myself had the chance to work through a variety of different issues and concerns from members of the campus community.

I thoroughly enjoyed talking about OER and the benefits of OER for the UM System. I am grateful that my work after college brought me back to Mizzou. I was able to see SPARC members at my alma mater in action promoting OER on campus. Supporting their work at a place that was very formative for me was a great experience and one I will not forget.

Scott Curtis, OER Coordinator at UMKC, Katie Steen, Open Education Fellow at SPARC, and Grace Atkins, Mizzou Librarian for Outreach and OER.

SPARC Open Education Fellow Katie Steen presenting on OER to the Mizzou campus community. 

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