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Support for Open Education Resources is Growing on Campus

Open Educational Resources group

Boise State was the first public university in Idaho to join the Open Textbook Network, an international collective of more than 800 campuses that work together in support of open education in general and open education resources (OER) in particular – articles, courses, images, data, video, code and more – that are in the public domain or released under an open license. The material is free in digital form for anyone to use and adapt, including faculty members who can tailor it to the specific needs of their students.

Boise State has taken a leadership role in support of OER, including working with the Idaho State Board of Education to help other universities build their OER infrastructure for the benefit of their faculty and students.

An on-campus coalition that includes Albertsons Library, eCampus Center, Learning Technology Solutions (part of the Office of Information Technologies) the IDEA Shop (part of the Center for Teaching and Learning) the Boise State Bookstore and the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) also is working together to promote OER.

“We’re proud that so many departments are part of these efforts,” said Amber Sherman, a librarian in the scholarly communications and data management unit at Albertsons Library. The group came together, she said, based on a shared interest and a desire to coordinate efforts for a common cause.

Open educational resources not only enrich the academic offerings for students and faculty, but they make education more affordable, said Sherman. According to national studies, a college student typically spends around $1,200 a year for textbooks. The use of OER lowers those costs. Students waiting for financial aid often have to wait to buy their textbooks, which can make them fall behind in their classes. Open education resources give all students “day-one access” to course materials.

Want to learn more about OER?

A number of initiatives for faculty, staff and students are taking place on campus. Library staff also is available to help with any aspect of OER, said Sherman, from finding materials to loading them onto Blackboard, and more.

Here are a few ways to get involved:

  • Representatives from Open Textbook Network will visit Boise State on Nov. 8 during the Digital Ecosystems (DigEco) Conference to offer workshops and consultations for faculty and staff. Faculty who attend the OTN workshop will be eligible to review an open textbook for the Open Textbook Library and receive a small stipend for their efforts.

These events are suitable for people with a wide range of knowledge, from beginners to experts. Register for DigEco and the OTN workshops online.

  • The IDEA Shop is offering a self-paced, ongoing online opportunity titled “Creating and Compiling OER for My Course.” For more information, email
  • The eCampus Center offers support to faculty who would like to integrate OER into their online courses. Email for more information.
  • Representatives from OIT, the IDEA Shop, eCampus Center, Albertsons Library, the Boise State Bookstore, ASBSU and assorted faculty meet every two weeks to discuss strategies for supporting OER use at Boise State. The meetings are open to all. Email to RSVP and get more details.
  • The Intermountain Open Pedagogies and Education Network continues to grow as an Idaho-led community of practice for institutions in our region. Every Friday, IOPEN meets online to discuss institutional barriers and state-wide strategies for OER initiatives. Meetings are open and all are welcome. Email to learn more and join.