By Carrie Gits, Head Librarian, Associate Professor, Austin Community College

The usefulness of an open educational resource (OER) can be measured in its ability to be adapted, modified, and reused by others to meet their unique needs. Authors and creators of OER often intentionally choose an open license that allows others to build upon their work, to improve, expand, and customize it. The power of open resources is that they are not static. They are meant to evolve and expand, to be adapted beyond the first version, and to encourage collaboration and participation from others in the process. This is how Texas Learn OER came to be.

In the fall of 2019 DigiTex contacted me to discuss creating a set of online training modules related to OER for a Texas audience. The project proposal was to expand an openly licensed set of training modules I created for faculty at Austin Community College called ACC Learn OER. The original modules were the result of my capstone project as a fellow in the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program. As outlined in the program’s curriculum, “Capstones should be designed to not only achieve a concrete outcome by the end of the semester, but also produce an output that can be of value to the broader community.” With DigiTex’s invitation to work for them, I welcomed the opportunity to expand the original resource and to collaborate with others to improve the content. I revised and remixed the content to make it applicable to a wider Texas higher education audience. I also gathered examples to showcase the important OER work, research, and legislation happening across the state. Input and feedback from peer reviewers in the open community further enhanced the content.

Texas Learn OER is a set of openly licensed self-paced modules for faculty, staff, and administrators. The 10 online modules include information on understanding OER; open licensing, including Creative Commons; finding and evaluating OER; accessibility; adapting, creating, and sharing OER; and OER in Texas. The course outline is listed below.

  1. Introduction to this course
  2. Understanding OER
  3. Why OER?
  4. Introduction to Open Licensing
  5. Finding & Evaluating OER
  6. Accessibility
  7. Creative Commons Licensing In-Depth
  8. Adapting, Creating, & Sharing OER
  9. A Look at OER in Texas
  10. Final Module Assessment

The modules are intended to be used and consulted by individuals who are new to OER, but also by those who want a refresher on areas such as the benefits of OER, open licensing, attribution, and state legislation related to OER. The overall curriculum has a set of comprehensive learning outcomes. Additionally, each individual module includes specific learning outcomes aligned with material covered in that section. The tenth module serves as the final assessment of a participant’s learning. Upon completion of the final assessment participants with a passing score of 80% or higher are eligible for three hours of professional development credit (or .3 CEUs) and a certificate from DigiTex. Texas Learn OER is now available for you to explore and learn from — even to adapt and modify if you need. It is an OER, after all!

The time is now for open educational resources, y’all! 2020 is demonstrating to all of us in higher education that change is abrupt and unpredictable. Faculty and students have adapted and transformed their teaching and learning in ways that they did not anticipate. Our students deserve long-term solutions that ensure they have access to affordable and engaging course materials throughout their educational experience. Our faculty deserve support and guidance in adopting, adapting, or creating teaching and learning materials that are inclusive and transformative. I encourage you to learn more, to start conversations and expand communities of learning around open educational resources and open practices at your institutions. I encourage you to collaborate and create OER with your colleagues across the state. My hope is that Texas Learn OER serves as a resource and foundation for this journey.