[S]hifting the mainstream public discourse is the best—and in most cases the only—way to achieve lasting change. Without this crucial ingredient, other movement successes—recruiting and empowering members in an expanding social organization; raising public awareness; and even convincing power holders to change policy in a desired direction—may prove ephemeral. By contrast, a movement that effectively alters the terms of discourse can overcome considerable opposition and structural disadvantages to achieve sustained, meaningful change (Woodly, 2015, p. 1).
Although Woodly was writing about national social movements, this argument may just as well apply to the promotion of open education (OE). Even if librarians and our allies succeed in advocating for open educational resources (OER) by recruiting participatory faculty, raising awareness across our communities, and gaining support from university administrators, our best chance at achieving sustainable and ever-deepening change requires a focus on discourse.
This chapter presents the practical details of how my colleagues and I increased OE awareness and incentivized OER adoption through a faculty stipend program at a public land-grant state university over the course of one year. Our communication strategies, timelines, and preliminary outcomes are grounded in the underlying assumptions that (1) conversations can promote lasting change and (2) grassroots-led action is preferable to top-down mandates. Although these assumptions may not apply in every context, my goal is to conceptualize our local progress in terms that may contribute to collectively developed models of successful and sustainable initiatives. Therefore, I emphasize discourse—that is, foreground “semantic tools and social processes” (Woodly, 2015, p. 22)—in this narrative of our successes and failures. This fits our story because I initially approached this work from a rhetorically influenced viewpoint. But I also contend that careful attention to discourse is vital for all library-led OE programs, since so much of our work can be classified as advocacy or persuasion. For this reason, frameworks drawn from political science and communication studies serve as useful analytic tools.
In the following sections, I will describe the situation of OE at Clemson University; offer a one-year timeline of our major activities; analyze our communicative approach; and reflect upon lessons learned and future directions.
Open Education at Clemson University
Clemson University is a public land-grant university in South Carolina with approximately 23,000 graduate and undergraduate students. While we know that, as on most campuses, there are faculty members engaging independently with OER, at the start of 2016 there was no coordinated effort to promote open education at the University. The Head of Digital Scholarship at the Clemson Libraries and colleagues at Clemson Online (the distance education department) had discussed and even budgeted for OER initiatives in previous years, but a lack of dedicated staff combined with major administrative changes in both units meant that the efforts remained speculative.
Despite these barriers, they laid the groundwork for more concerted action. In November 2014, the Clemson Libraries and Clemson Online co-sponsored an invited presentation by Dr. Cable Green, a prominent figure in the Open community. In early 2016, thanks to the Libraries’ membership in SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), we sponsored a faculty member from the College of Education to participate in OpenCon. On his return, he addressed the campus community on “Making the Most of Open Educational Resources.” These activities began conversations on campus as our local Open advocates sought dedicated institutional support. The effects of this preliminary work to connect interested parties, which in Clemson’s case meant representatives from the Libraries, Clemson Online, and the College of Education, are still evident. These early allies remain our strongest, indicating the simple power of repeated social contact.
In July 2016, I accepted the newly created position of Undergraduate Instruction and Open Educational Resources Librarian. The Libraries had decided to try out an official and specific investment in open education by allocating 40 percent of the position to OER work. Classified as a temporary lecturer, I was tasked with working to transition classes from traditional textbooks to open materials through outreach to students and faculty. (The remainder of the position is dedicated to undergraduate information literacy instruction.) Since my position was fixed for a two-year term expiring in July 2018, we knew that we had to move quickly to capitalize on previous action and attempt to prove the lasting value of open education for the Clemson community.
The first challenge was clear and personal: at the start of 2016, I could barely define “OER.” I had vague understandings of open access and copyright issues from nearly three years as a library specialist, but in order to take the lead on OER initiatives, I had a lot to learn. Throughout August and September, I attended webinars, read as much as I could, explored OER repositories and content types, and leaned heavily on the expertise of colleagues across campus and external partners such as SPARC. (Special thanks to SPARC’s Assistant Director of Open Education, Brady Yano, for his invaluable support during these early days and beyond.)
These first few months were also about planning, defining, and connecting. The Head of Digital Scholarship, my supervisor and closest collaborator on the OER side of my job, introduced me to our indispensable partners at Clemson Online. As we discussed our programmatic aspirations, and as my knowledge of the OER universe slowly expanded, I began to understand my task as a communications challenge. The general charge to “establish an OER program” felt vague and daunting. So, like all good research librarians, we started by seeking models. Unsurprisingly, most institutions emphasized “awareness” as a vital first step. This, however, still felt vague and daunting. “Awareness” was a job for marketing or public relations or brand managers, not for introverted librarians! Failure loomed whenever I attempted to imagine myself as a salesperson with OER as my product, or even as a protestor agitating for policy changes. Doubtful of my role, I looked around for context clues—and realized that I barely knew my own context. I had learned about open education abstractly, but still needed to break down our specific rhetorical situation at Clemson. This heuristic, a familiar one from my background in rhetoric and composition, provided guiding questions:
- Who is the audience?
- What is the purpose, message, and exigence?
- What is the medium and channel of communication?
Since each answer informs the others, I started by identifying our audiences. After all, we can hardly “raise awareness” without defining whose awareness we wish to raise. There are multiple stakeholders in the OE movement, but the most obvious audiences on a university campus are students, faculty, and administrators. As previously mentioned, we were already operating under the belief that top-down mandates would be slow, unsustainable, and potentially threatening to academic freedom. In their reflection on leading change at the University of Michigan-Flint, Gano-Phillips and Barnett (2008) concluded that they were only able to achieve “sweeping cultural change” (p. 41) by avoiding heavy-handed, top-down approaches. Instead, they “depended upon collective action” and “used existing faculty governance structures” (Phillips & Barnett, 2008, p. 41). This echoes much of the common wisdom about institutional reform. In accordance, we prioritized grassroots-led efforts over administrative action. Thus, two target audiences remained: students and faculty.
Our purpose was also twofold. Raising awareness may be an obvious first step, but its success is difficult to assess, and we had a two-year timeframe in which to produce outcomes that could inspire more permanent institutional support. We clearly needed measurable action, not just awareness. Previous conversations between the Libraries and Clemson Online had laid the groundwork for a faculty stipend program inspired by initiatives at other institutions. Establishing this stipend became a primary action item, with the goal of incentivizing faculty adoption, adaptation, or creation of OER for courses offered in fall 2017.
The exigence of OER initiatives, as explored in detail throughout this volume, is difficult to refute. Higher education costs are generally untenable, and textbook prices in particular have skyrocketed; most students lack required learning materials at some point due to these financial realities and/or the belief that such materials are unnecessary; open resources, practices, and pedagogy offer exciting and relatively easy solutions to these problems. However, the details and definitions embedded within this seemingly straightforward message mean that translating it for those with inconsistent OER knowledge requires careful tailoring—particularly when trying to keep it succinct enough to capture the limited time and attention of faculty and students. Moreover, convincing an audience of your argument’s validity does not automatically lead them to act. I will further detail our messaging challenges and strategies later in this chapter.
Lastly, the communicative mediums and channels available on Clemson’s campus have always posed difficulties. As in any large organization or community, and especially any decentralized university, multiple voices vie for the limited time and attention of their audiences. Therefore, gatekeepers often attempt to mediate this chaos by controlling access to channels such as email listservs and campus-wide news publications. Once again, the strength of an argument is inconsequential if it never reaches its intended audience. Knowing that this was a likely roadblock, opening channels quickly became a priority.
The Libraries already offered several avenues toward faculty. Liaison librarians communicated with their assigned academic departments, the Head of Digital Scholarship served on the Faculty Senate, and our administrative office provided me with contact information for each college’s coordinator. More broadly, we could reach a self-selected population of faculty and students through the Libraries’ blog and social media. But we still lacked a direct line to students, a larger and more diverse group than faculty and one whose communicative habits remained opaque. I needed insight and inroads.
As the fall 2016 semester began in earnest, I reached out to the Clemson Undergraduate Student Government (CUSG). I emailed the president, introduced myself and my task, and asked if we could meet to discuss student needs and possible collaborations. After our discussion, he delegated the (potential and undefined) project to CUSG’s Academic Affairs Committee. The committee chair suggested that one member, a senator in her junior year, take the lead in working with me. Luckily for us, she was enthusiastic and committed, and Clemson’s burgeoning OER movement gained a powerful ally armed with suggestions and networks for reaching other students. Her work led to the passage of a CUSG resolution expressing student support for OER adoption (see Appendix I).
Most of my conversations in these first three months were with colleagues and OER advocates as I developed content knowledge, learned from others’ experiences, defined goals, and decided how to approach our local context. The following timeline describes what came next by charting our major events and activities up to May 2017.
Timeline of Major Activities
In celebration of Open Access Week:
- Organized a pizza party for students with a presentation about OER basics by SPARC’s Brady Yano via Google Hangouts.
- Assembled a display in the main library lobby that asked students to report their textbook expenditures on a whiteboard and to pick up a flyer about open alternatives.
- Offered students a chance to win gift cards if they recorded a brief testimonial about their experiences with textbook costs in our Adobe Studio’s video recording room and signed a release allowing us to use the footage as needed for future media campaigns.
- Held two informational presentations for faculty: one by the Head of Digital Scholarship on open access publishing and one by me on defining and adopting OER.
Attended the Annual Open Education Conference (“OpenEd”) and OpenCon 2016, which both offered energizing opportunities to gather ideas, make connections (e.g., meeting with an Open Textbook Network representative), and get inspired. CUSG passed a Resolution in Support of Open Educational Resources (see Appendix I).
Held final meetings with campus partners at Clemson Online and Human Resources to establish a faculty stipend program (see Appendix II for call for proposals). Updated web presence in the form of a LibGuide listing OER repositories and related resources. Proposed membership in the Open Textbook Network to library leadership.
Presented to the CUSG on the possibilities of OER and asked for volunteers to assist with Open Education Week in March. Presented to the Clemson Faculty Senate on OER benefits and campus support for adoption. Presented OER stipend details to liaison librarians in the Research Services unit. Advertised the faculty stipend program via Libraries’ channels (including: blog, social media, and paper flyers in interlibrary loan books sent to faculty) and submissions to campus-wide news media.
Continued soliciting applications for faculty stipend program, including direct emails to coordinators in each college who forwarded the message to their faculty listservs. Planned Open Education Week activities in collaboration with CUSG volunteers and advertised events via library channels, CUSG newsletter (sent to all students) and social media, and CUSG volunteers’ personal networks of friends, Greek organizations, etc. Began receiving faculty stipend applications, primarily from the College of Education.
In celebration of Open Education Week:
- Offered students a chance to win a gift card for creating a meme about OE and tagging the Libraries on Twitter.
- Set up a table on the high-traffic footbridge in front of the main library, staffed throughout the week by student volunteers, with candy, a sign advertising the meme contest, and flyers encouraging student advocacy for OER.
- Started a petition on Change.org (as per student suggestions) for students to sign in an expression of support for OER.
- Held two drop-in sessions for faculty with questions about the stipend.
Began receiving requests from faculty for consultations about stipend applications (by phone, email, and in person). Officially joined the Open Textbook Network and announced membership via press release sent to campus-wide publications. Contacted by the student newspaper, The Tiger, for an interview about our initiatives.
Continued to meet with faculty as requested. Faculty stipend committee (with two representatives from the Libraries and two from Clemson Online) met to review applications and select award recipients.
Updated CUSG partners on outcomes from Open Education Week and stipend process (e.g., number of petition signatures, estimated fall savings for students, etc.) before students left for summer break. Notified stipend recipients with award details. Emailed remaining stipend applicants with offers of assistance and suggestions of relevant OER for their courses.
Crafting Our Message
As evidenced by this timeline, most of our efforts in this first year have been various forms of outreach: media and advertising; presentations to both self-selected groups and influential campus bodies; contests; flyers; displays; networking; one-on-one discussions; etc. The hope is that these social processes will eventually transform our campus culture into one that not only accepts but expects OE practices. (Although this chapter focuses on Clemson’s current work to encourage OER adoption in particular, I continually reference “OE practices” in general because I believe that our strategies can and will be applied more broadly.) At that point, the Libraries would primarily serve in a supporting role, offering expert advice to faculty. But, for now, we must continue to actively shape the discourse on campus. In this section, I will consider some of the approaches that helped us craft the messages behind our outreach activities.
I have already referenced my rhetorical approach to analyzing our local context, but the utility of rhetoric’s classic emphasis on interactions between speaker/author, message/text, and audience(s) cannot be overstated. Prominent commentators in the OE community are also reflecting this. For example, in a blog post comparing pragmatic and idealistic approaches to OER advocacy, Jhangiani (2017) considered different identities that we may adopt as speakers/authors and how these stances affect our choice of messaging. That is, “whereas idealists emphasize student-centered, personalized solutions that foreground process and agency, pragmatists emphasize instructor-centered turnkey solutions that foreground content and efficiency” (Jhangiani, 2017). In his response to this post, Wiley (2017) shifted the emphasis from speaker to audience and argued that our messages should be shaped as specifically as possible, not only by distinguishing between groups such as faculty or students, but by tailoring our discursive choices to the individual. “Rather than a static framing like ‘what kind of advocate should I be?,’ I think a more useful framing would be dynamic, like ‘as I’m advocating for open with this specific faculty member, should I advocate for an evolutionary approach to open … or should my advocacy go straight to revolution?’” (Wiley, 2017). In short, both Jhangiani and Wiley are reminding us to be rhetorically aware.
What does this all mean in terms of message content? We know that, on most campuses, a majority of faculty still lack basic awareness and understanding of OER. In a recent qualitative study, Belikov and Bodily (2016) found that 73.9 percent of faculty still, quite simply, needed more information (p. 243). In consideration of our audience’s limited knowledge, I have tried to ensure that every piece of general communication includes a brief definition of OER and summary of their benefits, regardless of the rest of the content (see Appendix III for press release example).
However, we are also attempting to incite action. When addressing students, our goal this year has been to encourage advocacy. By asking students to record testimonials, report textbook costs, and sign a petition, we have been able to collect student voices for use in future campaigns. Our direct requests for student action in the form of emails to, or office hours discussions with, professors is difficult to assess and, admittedly, can be a rather daunting task. Student participation in Open events, including contests with gift card incentives, has also been low in this first year. Clearly, garnering student involvement is an ongoing project. While messages about lowering textbook costs are highly resonant, as evidenced by enthusiastic responses from both individuals and groups of students such as CUSG, we are still seeking inroads and effective expectations for student action.
Realistically, when it comes to course material selection, faculty hold the power. When addressing faculty, we have been trying to encourage adoption of OE practices, with an emphasis on stipend applications and OER use in this first year. Many others have noted the limitations of cost savings arguments when addressing faculty, including Jhangiani (2017). To craft messages that resonate more deeply, I once again turn to advocacy strategies from political science. Woodly (2015) argued that “resonance is rooted in … combining familiar values, common concepts, and new ideas into presumptive wholes that can come to be taken for granted” (p. 125). In other words, resonant arguments aim to shift the status quo by merging “existing understandings of the way things work or relate, with new arguments about what is significant or what is to be done” (Woodly, 2015, p. 97). This requires knowledge of underlying values and existing motivators. While, ideally, such knowledge is gained at the local level, we can make some assumptions about what drives university faculty at all institutions.
Wergin (2001) usefully summarized key themes found throughout research on faculty motivation, reporting that autonomy, community, recognition, and efficacy (p. 50) are the most important factors. This research provides another set of frames with which to analyze and organize our activities. For example, our commitment to grassroots rather than administrative action reinforces faculty autonomy, although we must be careful not to send the message that OER adoption is always the “best” or “only” way. So far, the only direct sign of pushback that I have received was during a conversation with an influential faculty member, in which he warned that some of his colleagues might interpret our efforts as an encroachment on their freedom to choose course materials.
We are working to develop a community around OE, although this is an ongoing project that requires wider awareness and participation. The faculty stipend recipients will, we hope, become the core of a growing community of practice that the Libraries and our allies can nurture through events and social networking. The stipend itself is one form of recognition, although our limited communication channels means that this recognition may not always spread as far as we would like. In future, the goal is for news of faculty accomplishments to trickle up, reaching the ears of influential campus figures (from department chairs to upper administration) who have the power to broadcast more widely in voices with more weight.
Lastly, we know that faculty care about their students. Proving the efficacy of OE is currently a research emphasis throughout the open community. Locally, part of our job is to collect, focus, and amplify the voices of Clemson students. Anecdotal feedback gathered through displays, video testimonials, petition signatures, the CUSG resolution, and personal interactions indicates that students believe OER can help them succeed. However, we have also found that they are understandably reluctant to directly advocate for OE to faculty members. Therefore, it falls on us to help faculty recognize the value of OE practices for their students.
These motivational factors serve as helpful frames when crafting messages directed toward faculty. However, it is still incredibly easy to fall into the “carrots and sticks” mentality that Wergin (2001) maligned. Even the widely popular stipend approach, which can be seen as offering a “carrot” of monetary rewards to faculty who agree to adopt or create OER, has obvious weaknesses: stipends are only sustainable if libraries or other advocates include them in their budgets, and—even more crucially when viewed from a discourse perspective—they imply that adopting OE practices is “above and beyond” a faculty member’s normal responsibilities, and thus warranting additional compensation, rather than an expected part of routine course planning activities. Similarly, although I believe that OE efforts should eventually be recognized in tenure and promotion guidelines, any attempts to force such deep institutional changes, rather than allowing them to organically grow as a result of cultural shifts, could have unintended negative consequences. Once again, this leaves us to rely on conversations, rather than carrots or sticks, as the core of our work—and makes patience a necessary correlate.
Measuring Our Success
Happily, we do have some measures of success available at the end of this first year. These outcomes are not only vital on a personal level, helping advocates to avoid burnout by providing evidence of efficacy, but are also required to garner continued institutional support.
Our clearest measurable success is the faculty stipend program. We awarded six $2,000 stipends and expect to save students nearly $100,000 in textbook costs in fall 2017. These savings should continue each semester. Our monetary inputs to yield this return include: $12,000 in direct stipend funding provided by Clemson Online plus related expenditures by the Libraries to fund 40 percent of a temporary lecturer position, SPARC and Open Textbook Network membership fees, and professional development funds used for OpenEd and OpenCon attendance.
We can also measure faculty buy-in beyond that of the six stipend recipients by considering total numbers of applicants and faculty consultations. For example, at least two faculty members (one from the College of Engineering and one from the communications department) are planning to adopt OER in their classes this fall even though they did not receive a stipend. I have also had recent conversations with a group of mathematics faculty who, prompted by my visit to the Faculty Senate, are interested in adopting open homework systems. It may be difficult to track these ripple effects with precision, but they certainly indicate an increase in OE-related action across campus.
Ultimately, it is difficult to quantify the effects that I argue are even more important: steps toward a change in discourse, behavior, and culture. But there are some frameworks at our disposal to help chart this movement. Raneri and Young (2016), in their discussion of OER programs at Maricopa Community Colleges, pointed to their use of John Kotter’s eight steps for leading change as one useful model (p. 583). According to Kotter, we must “establish urgency, form guiding coalition[s], create vision, communicate vision, empower others to act, plan for short-term wins, produce more change, and institutionalize new approaches” (Raneri & Young, 2016, p. 583). In our case, the urgency of OE is already globally established and locally confirmed; we have formed a guiding coalition between the Libraries and Clemson Online, though its sustainability is uncertain due to budgets and changing leadership; and we have created and communicated a vision of OER adoption on campus through our messaging. Our faculty stipend program is already enacting “short-term wins,” and we hope that it will instigate further change. By this metric, our efforts to lead change are well underway.
We might also look to measurements of behavioral change such as Patrick Jackson’s approach. I stumbled across this model while exploring public relations basics in the hope of finding guidance for OER outreach. Jackson listed these steps toward change: awareness, knowledge, interest, desire to change, preference for new behaviors, and adoption of new behaviors (Black, 2014, pp. 26–27). Under this framework, I would locate Clemson’s progress toward the middle. We have been striving throughout this year to raise awareness, knowledge, and interest in OE among faculty. The stipend program has led some to adopt, or at least try out, the new behavior of incorporating OER into their courses. However, on a larger scale, we are still in the early stages of cultivating faculty interest in change. This is a long-term project, and Jackson’s stages help us preview our intended path.
Reflection: Why Discourse Matters
Our choice of communication strategies (whether targeted toward students, faculty, administrators, or other campus publics) not only affects the quantitative success of OE programs (e.g., numbers of OER adoptions or dollar amounts of student savings) but also lays the groundwork for long-lasting cultural change within our institutions. In this context, I use “cultural change” to mean embedded shifts in routines, behaviors, values, and expectations at both individual and institutional levels. For example: expanding student and faculty expectations of what a “textbook” looks like and how it can be used; changing instructors’ processes for finding and selecting teaching resources; and establishing institutionalized structures with budgets, staff, and policies to support OE. Discourse allows or impedes these changes because “the way that we talk about issues in public both reflects and determines what solutions are considered desirable or plausible” (Woodly, 2015, p. 19). In other words, discourse constitutes possibilities—and, in classical rhetorical terms, determines “the available means of persuasion” (Aristotle, 350BCE) available to us as we plan our advocacy work.
In an essay about the rise of discourse perspectives in organizational communications research, Putnam (1999) argued:
Discourse, in this orientation, is the way that organizational understanding is produced and reproduced. Labels such as “ideal patient” and “healthcare provider” are not simply terms that classify occupational groups; rather they define expectations, forms of knowledge, and task activities for organizational groups. (p. 60, emphasis added)
The same is true for labels like “textbook” and “open” and “educational resource”: the way that academic librarians represent them in conversations or advertisements affects institutional activities. Schoeneborn and Blaschke (2017) confirmed the continuing influence of perspectives that examine “the formative role of communication in constituting organizational phenomena of various kinds” (p. xiii). This resonates with the concept of constitutive rhetoric, which further defines how communication strategies can form, cohere, or “constitute” definitions, identities, and realities (White, 1984; Charland, 1987). Accepting and leveraging the idea that discourse has constitutive power can help us to sustainably achieve our goals.
A focus on discourse lends itself particularly well to decentralized university contexts in which faculty governance and academic freedom should stand at the forefront of any attempts at institutional change. Rather than creating and passing down ideas about OE through administrative policies, starting with conversations among faculty and students encourages OE practices to be constituted naturally and eventually routinized. This grassroots approach to change management also allows for the fractures and contradictions (Putnam, 1999, p. 63) inherent in academia, from disciplinary or departmental differences to individual idiosyncrasies among faculty members.
Moreover, this belief in the power of conversations helps us choose strategies. At Clemson, we have decided that encouraging grassroots action by students and faculty, drawing on existing values and motivations, and working to change routinized behaviors will—slowly, but surely—change our campus culture. After all, “National political agendas do not merely develop; they are made by and through the speech and action of officials, elite opinion leaders, news media, interpersonal interactions, and the organized efforts of grass-roots” (Woodly, 2015, p. 33). Similarly, a campus focus on open education does not spontaneously arise, but instead requires initiatives led by OER advocates and carried forward by organizations such as student and faculty governments; recruitment of influential voices; campus-wide messaging strategies; and those all-important conversations, conducted at every turn.
Next Steps: Sustainability and Growth
By incentivizing initial OER adoptions and then gathering data, narratives, and advocates, we hope to translate grassroots efforts among students and faculty into part of our institutional identity, prompting wide-scale adoption and administrative support. Our success, at Clemson and beyond, will ultimately be measured not only by number of adoptions, depth of pedagogical integration, and amount of money saved for students, but also by the institutionalized structures—such as funding, policies, and staff—put in place to provide sustainable support for OE practices.
Clearly, we still have a great deal to accomplish before successfully changing the discourse around educational resources and practices at Clemson University. As I complete the first year of my position, we already have several firm goals ahead. Our membership in the Open Textbook Network means that we will host workshops in September 2017 for faculty to learn more about the process and possibilities of OER and for librarians and other personnel to learn how to support faculty adoption. We will also continue to support the faculty stipend recipients as they implement OER in their courses and highlight their progress to demonstrate new possibilities for their colleagues. Further, since CUSG’s involvement has proven to be a useful representation of student interest, I will reconnect with our contacts when they return to campus in the fall. My goal is to institutionalize support for OER at the student level by encouraging the formation of a standing committee or work group in CUSG. Lastly, contingent upon the success of the stipend program’s fall semester results, we should have funding available to offer a second round of stipends in 2018.
As awareness increases, so does the need for resources. One pressing project is to improve our web presence and distinguish it from Clemson Online’s Open Education web site. Although the basic distinction between our departments is that the Libraries provide support with discovery and adaptation of resources while Clemson Online supports the development of pedagogical strategies, our roles naturally overlap. Luckily, we work well together and share a passion for our goals. Unfortunately, however, our websites do not currently help visitors clarify our differences or take advantage of our connections.
We must also capitalize on our first stipend program’s results in order to promote an anticipated repetition of the program in 2018 and to recruit participation in other OE initiatives such as the Open Textbook Network workshop. Media campaigns and future presentations to student and faculty governments will feature the accomplishments of our stipend recipients.
Furthermore, although we have an estimate of student savings from stipend recipients, we do not know how much OE practices are helping students across campus to succeed in their programs. I plan to survey our faculty to compile a comprehensive picture of OE activities, particularly among faculty with whom I have not yet been in contact. The survey itself will raise awareness, and its results will allow us to describe the current state of open education at Clemson with far better accuracy. Ideally, this survey will also gauge faculty understanding of OER and their primary motivations for interest in OE, helping us to craft more resonant arguments. Once we have evidence in hand of OE on Clemson’s campus, rather than trying to generalize from the experiences of other institutions, I will target high-enrollment classes and large programs (such as introductory math, writing, and chemistry) to expand our reach. This could, of course, be a first step for other open advocates in their local contexts. However, I consider these classes to be such important targets that I would like to test our strategies, hone our arguments, and collect more data before approaching program leaders.
I firmly believe that all of these efforts can only be made sustainable through cultural change. If faculty and students start talking about and expecting education in new ways, then administrative buy-in and institutional structures to support OE will follow out of necessity. Unfortunately, cultural change tends to be slow and difficult to measure, meaning that most of our successes and failures will be proven only by time. However, the current structure of education in the United States is tipping toward the untenable. We are due for widespread changes. If we, as open advocates, can help to change the discourse around educational materials and practices on our campuses, then we may just be able to shape these new conceptualizations in ways that broaden opportunities for all students.
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Appendix I: A Resolution To Support The Use of Open Educational Resources
Resolution No. 6
Date Submitted: 11/03/2016
2016/2017 Clemson Undergraduate Student Senate
Committee: Academic Affairs
Purpose: To express Undergraduate Student Senate support for reducing textbook costs and increasing the use of open educational resources at Clemson University.
Whereas, as a result of regular increases in student tuition and fees, many Clemson University students face economic challenges while completing their degrees, and
Whereas, open educational resources are low-cost yet effective substitutes for traditional textbook materials, and
Whereas, traditional textbooks may fail to arrive on time, but open educational resources
Whereas, in an informal poll conducted by the Clemson University Libraries, 84% of the 445 respondents reported not buying a required textbook due to cost, and 29% of respondents reported dropping a class due to textbook cost, and
Whereas, in another informal poll of similar size conducted by the Clemson University Libraries, 27% of respondents reported incurring more debt due to textbook cost, and 13% of respondents reported forgoing basic necessities to purchase required textbooks.
Therefore, Be it Resolved by the Clemson Undergraduate Student Senate assembled in regular session the following:
That the Clemson Undergraduate Student Senate supports the use of more affordable educational materials including, but not limited to, open educational resources.
Appendix II: Faculty Stipend Call for Proposals
The Clemson University Libraries and Clemson Online seek proposals for the implementation of Open Educational Resources (OER) into existing Clemson courses. OER are instructional materials such as textbooks that are free to users and openly licensed to allow unlimited distribution and modification. To pilot the introduction of OER on campus and assist with course transitions, we are awarding $2,000 to one faculty member in each college.
Proposals Due: April 14th, 2017
Eligibility: All faculty.
Requirements: Adopt, adapt, or create Open Educational Resources (OER) to replace existing materials in a course currently offered at Clemson University. All implemented OER must be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license or similar.
Selection Committee: Two representatives from Clemson University Libraries (Head of Digital Scholarship and OER Librarian) and two representatives from Clemson Online (Deputy Director of Curriculum and Instruction and Manager of Learning Systems and Resources).
- Potential savings and remaining costs for Clemson students
- Applicant’s preparation to successfully implement OER
- Feasibility of implementing OER transition by Fall 2017
- Creativity of proposed adoption/adaptation/creation
Application Instructions: Complete and submit the following form and email your C.V. to Kirsten Dean, Clemson Libraries, at email@example.com. Stipend recipients will be notified in May. Note that one stipend is available for each college, but each college is not guaranteed a stipend.
Appendix III: Press Release
Clemson Joins Open Textbook Network, Offers $2,000 to Faculty Members
Clemson University is a proud new member of the Open Textbook Network, an alliance of colleges and universities working to promote “access, affordability, and student success through the use of open textbooks.” Open textbooks are written by experts and peer-reviewed, just like traditional textbooks — but because they’re published online under open licenses, they’re free to use and customize!
The average college student spends over $1,000 each year on textbooks, and many Clemson students report spending even more. As textbook costs continue to rise at over four times the rate of inflation and student debt reaches unprecedented levels, students are increasingly forced to make tough decisions about how to afford their education. For too many, that means not buying required textbooks, taking fewer classes, and suffering both academically and financially.
Joining the Open Textbook Network is just one part of a larger initiative sponsored by the Clemson University Libraries and Clemson Online to bring open educational resources (OER) to campus and reduce costs for students. Last November, the Clemson Undergraduate Student Government (CUSG) declared its endorsement by passing a Resolution to Support the Use of Open Educational Resources. CUSG senators are continuing to raise awareness and make student voices heard. You may have recently seen them on the library bridge during Open Education Week, a global celebration of educational equity.
We know that change isn’t easy, so the Clemson Libraries and Clemson Online are offering professional support along with $2,000 stipends to help faculty transition to OER. Faculty interested in replacing their course materials with OER may apply here by April 14th.
As part of our Open Textbook Network (OTN) membership, we will also be hosting a workshop this fall with financial incentives for participating faculty. A team of OTN experts will be on hand to provide training in OER assessment and adoption, along with continuing support. Stay tuned for more details!
Questions or comments? Contact Kirsten Dean, OER Librarian, at firstname.lastname@example.org.