Leading the discussion on open education

Today, senior education leaders from 12 states gathered at the Campus Club for a day-long seminar focused on sustainably supporting open education. Led by experts from the Center for Open Education’s Open Textbook Network (OTN), the aim is to increase understanding of this quickly growing area in higher education, support institutional transformation, and sustain growth of open education programs.

In order for open education initiatives to last, they must be sustainable, multi-layered, and enjoy not only grassroots but also administrative support. While many open education initiatives have begun as projects and pilots, the case for developing lasting, integrated institutional, consortial, and state-wide programs is starting to be made. This seminar will focus on giving decision-makers an overview of open education, why it matters and to whom, and ways they can support and sustain its growth.

“The seminar is an opportunity for higher education decision makers to see how open education can help make education more inclusive, increase retention, and improve affordability,” said David Ernst, executive director of OTN. “We’ve trained over 5,000 faculty, librarians, and staff nationally, and we’re excited to share our expertise with institutional leaders who have the power to make programmatic changes at their institution.”

OTN is an alliance of higher education institutions that advance open education by empowering its members to take collective responsibility for course content through proven practices, verifiable results, and community support. The network supports more than 110 members who represent more than 1,100 campuses nationwide.

The seminar leverages the OTN’s expertise in building open education programs. It also aligns with the Midwestern Higher Education Compact’s (MHEC) focus on serving higher education across the Midwest. A co-host of the seminar, MHEC is a 12-state legislatively created compact that creates solutions that build higher education’s capacity to better serve individuals, institutions, and states by leveraging the region’s resources, expertise, ideas, and experiences through multi-state convenings, programs, research, and contracts.

“In 2018 we brought together Open Education Resources (OER) champions from all 12 MHEC states so they could learn from and inspire each other’s work at a grass-roots level,” explained Susan Heegaard, MHEC president. “Their work has resulted in significant increases in the use of OER across the region, which has saved millions of dollars for Midwestern students and their families. Now in 2019 the time is right to convene institutional and system leaders from those same states so they can learn how to support these efforts and implement OER systematically. We are excited about the quality and the speed with which OER work in the MHEC states is unfolding.”

Welcoming the attendees at the invitation-only event were Heegaard and University of Minnesota’s Executive Vice President and Provost and MHEC Commissioner Karen Hanson.