It’s been a good year so far with announcements! I’ve taken on a larger public role this year, both with my amateur athlete self and the Digital Humanist who advocates for open access.

This week, I interviewed for and was offered the Chair/Project Coordinator position for the California Open Educational Resources Council, a result of SB 1052 and SB 1053, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012, that calls for the creation of affordable digital open-access textbooks (CC BY!) in conjunction with the creation of the first version of the California Open Source Digital Library.

An article ran in SJSU’s Spartan Daily, among other news venues, back in 2012 about SB 1052 & SB 1053 that highlighted the possibility of open access textbooks that are more affordable. In July 2013, with the hope of further progress on the project, Barbara Illowsky presented an overview of the legislation as well as the history of the project and all of the entities at the July 2013 Online Teaching Conference.

I’ve been named to chair the California Open Educational Resources Council on behalf of the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates — which just means that I’m chairing the Council created and funded by the State of California to create, review, disseminate, and publicize open access textbooks. The Council consists of 10 faculty members: 3 from the CSUs, 3 from the UCs, and 3 from community colleges, and 1 non-voting chair from the CSU (me). We have an ambitious plan to put into place a review process for open access textbooks that will be used in 50 courses across all 3 types of schools. This will also be part of the first version of the California Open Source Digital Library.

The funding comes from the State of California and a grant awarded by the Hewlett Foundation. The full explanation of the project is below (in the form of the official verbiage in the grant to the Hewlett Foundation):

The California State University, Office of the Chancellor is requesting $500,000 from the [Hewlett Foundation] and $500,000 from the Gates Foundation to match the State of California’s $1,000,000 funding designated by SB 1052 and SB 1053 to establish the California Open Education Resource Council (COERC) and the delivery of the first version of the California Open Source Digital Library (COSDL). The California State University (CSU) will administer the collaboration between the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates (ICAS) and CSU, the California Community Colleges (CCC), and the University of California (UC) to design and deliver intersegmental services for the faculty and students of California’s public higher education systems. To quickly and productively deliver on the promises of SB 1052 and SB 1053, the project will leverage ICAS, Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, and CSU’s MERLOT (www.merlotx.org) and Affordable Learning Solutions initiative (http://als.csuprojects.org).

Saving students money on the costs of high quality textbooks and increasing faculty adoption of open textbooks are the critical outcomes of the project. The project will start with the development of a showcase collection of existing high quality and reliably available open textbooks that are aligned with strategic courses in the CCC, CSU, and UC. COERC will develop, apply, and communicate the criteria for evaluating and recommending the open textbooks as part of the outreach and adoption processes. The COSDL will provide expanded catalog descriptions of the resources. Teaching ePortfolios for the open textbooks will be develop by faculty to capture the pedagogical and financial benefits of adopting the specific open textbooks and included in the library. Providing faculty with easy access to open textbooks, and information about teaching with these materials by their colleagues, as well as providing institutional support and recognition of their efforts will be instrumental in increasing faculty adoption of open textbooks.

A presentation by Barbara Illowsky at the July 2013 Online Teaching Conference supplies a great overview of the material and the various acronyms for all parties involved: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRhnR1gyfNo

It’s a great cause and one that will build on many other institutional projects across all California public institutions of higher education. Soon, we’ll have a public page as part of the ICAS website: http://icas-ca.org/.

Stay tuned!