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Saturday, January 29, 2022

UMass Amherst Fall 2021 Open Scholarship Highlights

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UMass Amherst Libraries are offering highlights of open scholarship activities during the fall 2021 semester at the university.

  • Faculty members incorporate a commitment to OER into their curricula. “No textbook required to purchase for this course” are words of welcome for students, many of whom struggle to purchase expensive textbooks. Faculty members using OER are adding a copy of this statement template to their curriculum under the Textbooks and Materials section, demonstrating their commitment to equitable access and affordability of education through their use of OER.
  • An anthology of a writing program that saves students money. Elkie Burnside, Assistant Director of the Writing Program, engaged students and faculty in a collaborative, purposeful process to create OER. Burnside has created an open access digital book for nearly 5,000 students in the college’s writing courses. Starting this fall, the Student Writing Anthology has replaced a script that costs students $40-70. Burnside also creates a digital repository of the best annual text competition that the program holds each year. This will be a magazine with the winners’ work each year shared and circulated publicly.
  • Two professors cut textbook costs for students and made the curriculum more comprehensive at the same time. Developed by Stacey Giuffre, Director of the Italian Language and Graduate Programme, and Instructor Melina Masterson All at the table!, OER for Italian Elementary. “In writing this book, our goals were to reduce costs to students in the hope of making the Italian language learning experience more inclusive, as well as providing the opportunity to learn about Italian language and culture for a more diverse group of learners.” Even the title of the book, All at the table!, represents universality. It translates as “everyone at the table”, or, in the form of an invitation, “everyone at the table!” It is the result of the 2020 scholarship cycle (link) and has received a national exposure at the Language OER Conference.
  • Expanding the scope of open education for college students. Samantha Law, a student at UMass, writes in the Daily Hampshire Gazette that OER “is easy to adapt to specific courses, no matter how specialized the subject is, and allows for collaboration between educators around the world to help improve these resources…at UMass.” Amherst, OER has saved students more than $2.5 million, and by shifting more professors from paid textbooks to open education, that number could increase dramatically. What we must do to win the game, then, is to advocate for funding greater to grant OER and to persuade more professors to adopt OER. The goal is to enable all students to study without worry, regardless of major.”
  • Our tools and values. Open Access Week 2021 featured a keynote address from Ethan Zuckerman, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Communications and Information, and Director of the UMass Initiative for Digital Public Infrastructure. Martha Fuentes-Bautista, Senior Lecturer, and Director of Research and Learning Engaged in Communications, provided a response. The discussion explored how digitizing all aspects of our lives is an ongoing challenge for value-led organizations such as public broadcasters, advocacy organizations, and libraries. We can take the first step towards resolving conflicts between technology and values ​​in scrutinizing our technology environments and moving towards alternatives that are compatible with values. But a deep transformation requires the creation of an alternative technology infrastructure that is driven by public values ​​rather than profits.
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