Grace Atkins was the Outreach & Open Education Librarian at the University of Missouri. A member of the UM System’s Affordable & Open Educational Resources executive committee, they designed, supported, and led the Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives at the system and campus level. They started working with OER in 2015 by coordinating an OER Interest Group at the University of Missouri and organizing the university’s first Open Education Week. In June 2017, they were appointed to the task force that designed and implemented a $500,000 system-wide grant incentive program to fund faculty adoption, customization, and creation of OER. As of Spring 2019, the grant program has saved University of Missouri students over $2 million in course material costs.
Grace was also a MOBIUS state system lead for the Open Textbook Network (OTN) and a member of the Midwest Higher Education Compact’s Missouri Action team. In their role at MOBIUS (regional library consortium), they trained Missouri librarians from higher education institutions across the state in how to communicate with faculty and instructors about OER and Open Education Pedagogy (OEP). To further support OER across the state, they forged a partnership between MOBIUS and the OER Commons to build the MOBIUS OER Commons Hub, a set of consortia-wide OER collections created by and for instructors at Missouri higher education institutions.
Wanting to play a larger role in the creation of OER, Grace left the University of Missouri in August 2019 to pursue a Master of Education in Learning Technologies from the University of Minnesota. Grace now works as an academic technologist in the College of Liberal Arts. They work to improve the student learning experience by incorporating technology in the classroom and implementing instructional design best practices across all teaching modalities. Grace collaborates with librarians and other institutional partners to increase OER use and affordability in CLA courses. Their favorite part of OER work is encouraging instructors to apply open pedagogy to improve equity in higher education courses.
At the time of Grace’s participation in the Open Education Leadership Program, OER activity at the University of Missouri was shifting from a campus grassroots effort to a system-wide top-level priority. When presented with the challenge of having a system-wide OER initiative and no centralized campus office to locally implement the initiative, campus support units had to get creative in their organization of staff and workflows. Grace’s capstone project, Forming & Creating an OER Working Group, explores the importance of collaborative organizational structures in supporting OER initiatives at higher education institutions. Their community resource provides simple instructions for how to form effective OER working groups and committees at higher education institutions. They presented on this work at the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) and Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries (Alliance) joint conference, “OER: From Vision to Action,” and the 2018 Open Education Conference.