Rice University (a member of the Global MOOC Alliance) will welcome a dozen new colleges and universities serving diverse students across the United States to its educational technology initiative.

OpenStax program has helped over 70 colleges and universities expand the use of open educational resources on their campuses, saving their students money and putting more flexible course materials into the hands of educators and learners.

Last year, OpenStax began putting a greater emphasis on serving diverse student populations through its Institutional Partner Program. For the first time, the program was offered to institutions using open educational resource initiatives while also providing more one-on-one support for new educators and administrators.

Among the institutions that recently completed the 2020-21 program are Texas Southern University (TSU), a historically Black university, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), an institution serving mostly Hispanic students. UTRGV saw a dramatic increase in the number of faculty assigning OpenStax textbooks and open educational resources: Over 1,000 more students at the university used OpenStax textbooks this school year, saving students more than $400,000.

On average, the 2020-21 cohort members increased OpenStax textbook use on their campus by 250%. In addition to TSU and UTRGV, the new institutions were Lamar State College, Port Arthur; Lincoln University; San Antonio College, Tarleton State University; Texas Woman’s University; Spring Hill College; Saginaw Valley State University; Minnesota State University, Mankato; and Molloy College.

Participating in the OpenStax Institutional Partnership has been instrumental in progressing our textbook affordability efforts at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The support and guidance provided by OpenStax have allowed us to create new initiatives which have proven very successful in educating various stakeholders about the importance of adopting open educational practices and all it encompasses. In our focused efforts we have seen an increase in awareness, interest, adoption and creation of open educational resources within our campus community.

Gabby Hernandez, an open education librarian at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Each school participating in the Institutional Partner Program develops its own strategic plan for increasing the use of open educational resources on its campus.

The University of Minnesota, Mankato is developing course cartridges that will allow faculty on their campus to easily add an OpenStax textbook to their learning management system, D2L. TSU developed a collaboration between the university library and the Student Government Association to raise funds for a small grants program; faculty at TSU are able to apply for a grant when creating or adapting an open educational resource for use in their courses.

It has been astounding to watch this cohort of colleges and universities work so hard to get free, flexible course materials to their students, especially in light of all of the challenges this year has brought. The diverse student bodies that these institutions serve will benefit from access to free textbooks and open education practices. And we are excited to welcome the incoming group of colleges and universities, which together will serve the most diverse populations the Program has seen.

Daniel Williamson,
managing director of OpenStax

The following schools have been selected to participate in the 2021-2022 Institutional Partner Program: the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD); Michigan State University; Florida State University; Texas Tech University; the College of Southern Nevada; City College of San Francisco; the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System; Orange Coast College; Southern University; and the University of Houston-Victoria.

UTRGV and TSU will rejoin the program to continue work on their initiatives, and all 12 schools will work throughout the next year to strengthen campus initiatives and lead even more instructors and students to use the free, flexible teaching materials.

At the University of Houston-Downtown — one of the most diverse universities in the country and the most diverse in this region — affordability and quality of education are paramount, and increased use of OER is a social justice imperative. Reducing course materials costs while maintaining instructional excellence are keys to UHD students’ success.

Pat Ensor,
executive director of library services at University of Houston-Downtown

About OpenStax
OpenStax is committed to improving access to quality learning materials. As an ed-tech initiative that is part of Rice University and supported by philanthropic foundations, OpenStax provides free college and Advanced Placement textbooks that are developed and peer-reviewed by educators, as well as low-cost, personalized courseware that helps students learn. For more information, visit OpenStax.org.

This article originally appeared on http://news.rice.edu/2021/06/03/openstax-institutional-partner-program-expands-for-next-academic-year

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