Roll Out the Red Carpet for OER

By Emma Wood

MASSPIRG’s UMass Dartmouth Chapter hosted UMD’s first ever Oscars-themed awards ceremony to recognize faculty members who use free or low-cost teaching materials in their classes. MASSPIRG sought nominations from students throughout the year at tabling events, and they honored the nominees at their inaugural event one April evening with refreshments and statuettes for the winners of each category. MASSPIRG students Lily Pendergast, Topanga Pottier, and other volunteers, dedicated their time and ingenuity to planning this event to shine a spotlight on the OER work of faculty. Oscars were awarded by discipline. For example, Dr. Olubanwo took the STEM category. He uses an Openstax textbook which is available digitally at no cost to students. He recently completed the OER Adoption cohort that I lead as part of UMD’s OER initiatives. The student choice award went to Dr. Walker Downey who teaches Art Education, Art History & Media Studies.

Photo shows golden statuettes
The OER Oscars statuettes

Similar events have been held by UMass Lowell and UMass Amherst with the shared goal of recognizing professors who incorporate free and low-cost materials into their syllabi. It can take added effort for professors to locate and adopt openly licensed materials and structure their courses around them, and some faculty go even further to author their own textbooks. The benefits are well-established and worth the time. OER has shown to increase student success indicators, provide equitable access to materials, and of course, save students a financial burden. Open Educational resources are a positive option for faculty who appreciate the flexibility and potential for tailoring of content that comes with some Creative Commons licenses. The classroom experience is improved for both students and educators when course materials are easy to access and navigate from day one of class.

Photo shows group of people smiling
Faculty attendees of the OER Oscars

MASSPIRG pulled in over 80 faculty nominations for their OER Oscars event so even though only some walked away with a shiny gold statuette, it’s clear that students appreciate the OER work that faculty undertake. Some faculty resources may not fit the definition of Open Educational Materials, but still, students notice when they are paying less for their books. This might come in the form of library subscriptions or using portions of traditionally copyrighted works under Fair Use, but the impact of removing high cost from the equation is still significant. Congratulations to all the nominee on their well-deserved recognition

There was a red carpet, of course, for photo opportunities.
Consistent with the Oscars theme, there was a red carpet photo opp available.

Learn more about Open Educational Resources here: