by Judith Sebesta, Ph.D., Executive Director, Digital Higher Education Consortium of Texas
On August 7-8, 2019, the Digital Higher Education Consortium of Texas hosted Open Education Texas: Policy, Practice & Potential. We welcomed over 160 attendees, a majority of whom represented Texas community colleges, to this statewide convening.
Statewide Landscape Analysis
The foundation for the event was a statewide landscape analysis, conducted this spring and summer, on OER programs, policies, and practices in Texas higher education. In order to better understand OER-related needs of institutions across the state, we collaborated with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) to conduct the survey. Key research questions included:
- How and to what extent are institutions across Texas using OER?
- What key issues, challenges, and incentives are affecting OER adoption for institutions?
- What supports will enable increased adoption and use of OER?
Dr. Cynthia Jimes of ISKME presented preliminary findings of the survey. Some highlights of these related to community colleges included:
- approximately 20% of institutions—primarily two-year— reported that they are in the process of developing or already offer ZTC Degree Programs.
- two-year institutions were more likely to prioritize student engagement as a goal for OER.
Overall, of 100 institutions responding, both two- and four-year, a majority (69%) reported offering OER-based courses.
We also were pleased to have OER experts from the field and at a variety of Texas institutions presenting. Dr. Lisa Petrides of ISKME/OER Commons and CCCOER’s own Director Una Daly opened the convening with an overview of the national landscape of OER, including ZTC Degrees at community colleges. Then Dr. Kylah Torre from the THECB focused on Texas OER legislation and state-level activities. After Dr. Jimes’ overview of the findings of the OER survey, Daniel Williamson of OpenStax reported on their latest work to support OER at institutions across the state and beyond.
Showcase of Best Practices
A highlight of the event followed as representatives of fifteen colleges and universities across the state participated in a showcase of OER best practices at their institutions. These breakout sessions included seven community colleges (and DigiTex members), who shared creative, innovative, and impactful approaches to OER practice and advocacy:
- Austin Community College
- Central Texas College
- Houston Community College
- Northeast Lakeview College
- Panola College
- San Jacinto College
- Tarrant County College District
Finally, an interactive “Jam” session provided all attendees with the opportunity to participate in a discussion of the survey results, the event’s presentations, and where to go from here to support OER in Texas. Petrides moderated the session, which began with a discussion among Daly, Jimes, Williamson, and Dr. Rex Peebles of the THECB. We used Pigeonhole Live to gather questions from attendees in real time, with the panel responding to those voted as the most “popular.”
Archive and Going Forward
Other special attendees included Nicole Allen from SPARC and Patrick Philpot, who serves on the staff for Texas Senator Larry Taylor, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education. Many presentations from the event can be accessed here, and the final survey report will be available at the same site in September.
It is our hope to host an OER event annually, as well as to conduct a new landscape analysis biannually. We also are planning a variety of webinars and other professional development opportunities and hope to provide grants to support OER development, adoption, and use. Stay tuned as we work, through OER and other strategies (which you can see in our new DigiTex strategic plan), to help support the goals of Texas’ higher education strategic plan, 60x30TX.
Follow DigiTex on Twitter @digihectex.