DigiTex’s Associate Director Selected as SPARC Open Education Leadership Fellow

Ursula Pike, Associate Director of the Digital Higher Education Consortium of Texas (DigiTex), has been selected as a fellow in the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program, an intensive professional development program to empower academic professionals with the knowledge, skills, and community connections to lead successful open education initiatives that benefit students. The two-semester program blends online, peer-to-peer, and project-based learning to build a comprehensive understanding of the open education field coupled with practical know-how to take action on campus and beyond. Ms. Pike is one of 21 fellows selected from a competitive application pool for the program’s 2020-2021 cohort.

“DigiTex is deeply committed to supporting open education at Texas public community colleges, across the state, and beyond. We are proud that Ms. Pike has been selected for this prestigious program and believe that this work will benefit Texas colleges and students.”                                                                                                                                                                                                            — Judith Sebesta, Executive Director

The SPARC Open Education Leadership Program spans two semesters, beginning with an intensive online course in the fall to build open education subject matter mastery. In the spring, Ursula Pike will work with a mentor to implement a capstone project that will help advance open education through DigiTex and contribute back to the broader open education field. Ms. Pike will join the rest of the cohort in attending the 2020 Open Education Conference virtually in early November.

“My goal for participating in the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program is to learn how to use Open Educational Resources to effectively advocate for open education for students at the 55 Texas colleges served by DigiTex. Promoting equitable student outcomes is my primary interest and I hope to develop a resource focused on equity for my capstone project.”

DigiTex supports the creation, adaptation, and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) through webinars on topics related to OER, research to better understand OER policy and practice across the state, and Texas Learn OER, an online OER 101 course specifically developed for the Lone Star State. OER have the capacity to contribute to cost savings for students and support learning outcomes, while also helping Texas to meet the goals outlined in its higher education plan, 60x30TX. DigiTex is partnering with the Texas Digital Library to jointly organize the 2021 Open Texas conference to convene librarians, faculty, administrators, and other open education practitioners and advocates in Texas.

“The COVID-19 crisis has brought deeper scrutiny to many of the inequities that already exist within higher education, and open education is a key enabling strategy to help level the playing field,” said Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for SPARC. “A large part of what makes our program successful is the unique and valuable perspective each participant brings to it, and the vibrant community of practice that develops amongst the cohort. We are proud to have Ursula Pike among our 2020-2021 class.”

SPARC is a global coalition dedicated to making Open the default in research and education. For more information about the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program, visit sparcopen.org/our-work/open-education-leadership-program.