Open and Affordable Educational Resources

At Mason, we want to make your courses accessible to all students.  One way to do that is to reduce the costs of the textbooks and other educational materials you use—and University Libraries can help.

We offer support for reducing the cost of textbooks  and for making library-licensed e-content available to your students.  We’re also ready to help you discover, use or even develop and publish your own open educational resources.

So there are several ways to make educational resources affordable for your students:

  • Choose a standard textbook, put a physical copy on reserve, then let your students know how to access it.
  • Choose a textbook or articles where the library already offers free digital access.  Place the item on ‘e-reserve‘ and then link to the item on your Blackboard site or include a link in your syllabus.
  • Choose an existing Open Educational Resource (see Finding OERs below).
  • Work with us to develop and publish an OER for your course(s). Contact John Warren at jwarre13 at gmu.edu to get started.

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are freely-accessible teaching, educational, and research materials that either exist in the public domain or are available to users via an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing. These resources include complete online courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, assessment tools, and software. They provide people worldwide with access to quality education and the opportunity to share, use, and reuse knowledge.

Finding OERs

Mason’s Open Educational Resource Metafinder

In conjunction with Deep Web Technologies, University Libraries is developing a search engine that simultaneously queries more than a dozen sources of educational materials–content that is open access and immediately available for use in your courses. We’re still adding search targets but today our OER Metafinder searches fifteen sites and returns the top 250 or so hits from each site–in seconds!

Explore the links below for additional information  on this topic:

Course Content and Textbooks

Open Courses and MOOCs

Grants and Advocacy

K-12 Resources

Articles and Research on OERs

OER Part 1: Course Content and Textbooks

The following Open Educational Resources (OER) collections include course content and textbooks you may use, re-purpose, and distribute for your teaching and learning needs. Learn more about high-quality open courses, educational resources, and OER advocacy by checking out the rest of the series below:

Part 2: Open Courses and MOOCs | Part 3: Grants and Advocacy | Part 4: K-12 Resources | Part 5: Articles and Research

Return to OER overview

Continue Reading OER Part 1: Course Content and Textbooks

Fair Use

We are happy to discuss copyright and fair use but you may well find that the American Library Association’s Fair Use Evaluator can help you get started on a “fair use” evaluation:

http://librarycopyright.net/resources/fairuse/index.php

Alternatively, many organizations have written guidelines or best practices to help define fair use for specific audiences or types of content. These best practices provide an important framework for educators, in particular, in the event your decision supporting fair use is questioned by a court of law. American University’s Center for Media & Social Impact has compiled these documents (see CMSI’s Best Practices), or you may link to the document in the list below that is most applicable to your current needs). Topics are bolded for easier identification.

 

OER Part 2: Open Courses and MOOCs

The following Open Educational Resources (OER) collections include open courses and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that you can take to supplement your curriculum or simply explore new subjects. Learn more about high-quality open educational resources and OER advocacy by checking out the rest of the series below:

Part 1: Course Content and Textbooks | Part 3: Grants and Advocacy | Part 4: K-12 Resources | Part 5: Articles and Research

Return to OER overview

Continue Reading OER Part 2: Open Courses and MOOCs

OER Part 4: K-12 Resources

While most of the energy around Open Educational Resources is in higher education, affordable and open educational resources are important to K-12 educators as well.

Part 1: Course Content and Textbooks | Part 2: Open Courses and MOOCs | Part 3: Grants and Advocacy | Part 5: Articles and Research

Return to OER overview


Curriki (http://www.curriki.org/)

Curriki is a nonprofit global community that offers free K-12 learning resources for teachers, students, and parents. The resources on Curriki cover a wide range of subjects in the arts and sciences. Curriki offers over 55,000 Open Educational Resources and its 400,000 members represent nearly 200 countries.

Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org/)

Not-for-profit Khan Academy is an organization dedicated to providing a “free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” Content includes interactive challenges, assessments, and video in an array of topics for kindergartners through adult learners. Create an account to practice standardized tests and keep statistics on assignments and coursework you’ve completed, noting your progress as you learn.

Lumen Learning (http://lumenlearning.com/)

http://lumenlearning.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/LumenLogo200x70.png

Lumen is dedicated to facilitating broad, successful adoption of OER at higher education and K-12 institutions. Lumen provides training and support for faculty members to teach open courses and also publishes open courses in over 30 high-demand subjects. Lumen’s catalog of open courseware includes courses in mathematics, general education, business, and science and technology.

Student Senate Support for the Open Textbook Initiative at George Mason University

The University Libraries is excited to report that the Student Government Senate has issued a resolution in support of open textbook adoption at Mason. This resolution encourages faculty to consider replacing expensive textbooks with open access materials and is a huge step on the path toward making college more affordable to Mason students.

What is an open textbook? It is a freely available digital book to which the author(s) has assigned a license permitting others, such as instructors, to use and adapt the content to suit their specific course learning objectives. That is, instructors can download, modify, remix, and share the item at no cost to themselves, their students, or their colleagues.

What do open textbooks offer students? Course material that is relevant, up to date, and varied in format, as well as accessible to all students as soon as a course begins. Concerns about the cost of pursuing a particular degree are diminished when textbook costs become immaterial. Not least of all, money that would have been spent on textbooks becomes available to help pay for rent, food, transportation, or even another course,.

What do open textbooks offer faculty? Some powerful incentives are:

  • the option to tailor course material selections to fit personal pedagogy,
  • the opportunity to work collaboratively with other disciplinary experts to select or create content that may be used and modified by colleagues around the globe, and
  • the ability to support students in a way that is deeply meaningful and purposeful, both inside and outside of the classroom.

The University Libraries invites your queries, discussion, and concerns about open textbooks. We are available to help you find these textbooks and other openly licensed materials to work with and integrate into your course(s). We are also experts in subscription content that may be appropriate for your course needs.

Please contact John Warren in the Mason Publishing Group about the open textbook initiative when curiosity overcomes you or you need assistance with existing open projects. As the expert in research materials specific to your discipline (both open and proprietary), your Subject Librarian is also available for consultation and assistance.

OER Part 5: Articles and Research

The following Open Educational Resources (OER) collection includes scholarly articles and other research on the benefits, uses, development, and adaptation of OER. Given the rapid growth of the OER movement, both in terms of the academic credibility and attention of policy makers it has gained, it is important for us to monitor the OER landscape as it continues to evolve. To learn more about open educational resources in higher education and how you can get involved in the OER movement, check out the rest of the series:

Part 1: Course Content and Textbooks | Part 2: Open Courses and MOOCs | Part 3: Grants and Advocacy | Part 4: K-12 Resources

Return to OER overview

Continue Reading OER Part 5: Articles and Research

Faculty Support to Explore Open Ed Resources

How can you, as an educator, have increased control over your teaching materials, be more creative in the classroom, AND lower student costs? Use existing open educational resources (OER) or create your own materials!

Mason 4-VA, in collaboration with the University Libraries and Mason Online, invites you to submit a proposal for innovative redesign of a course that integrates digital (and accessible) materials. That is, you supplant expensive textbooks either with digital works that you create, or with existing digital content that is in the public domain, licensed Creative Commons, or available in databases to which the University Libraries subscribes. To that end, you are reducing the cost of instruction to students and improving learning outcomes.

Courses of particular interest are those that:

  • have high enrollment,
  • are required for majors,
  • count in the Mason Core, or
  • carry high textbook costs.

This initiative is a Mason 4-VA pilot project. Any Mason full-time instructional faculty who teach high demand, heavily populated courses are eligible to apply, as are adjunct faculty who are part of a team proposal.

Depending on the nature of the proposed project and the level of team collaboration, you may receive a competitive grant ranging from $1,500 to $5,000. Funds will be distributed in Summer 2016.

The library is ready to support your use of OER content or answer your questions related to copyright and the Creative Commons licensing of your own materials. Mason Publishing Group, a department of the University Libraries, is available to aid faculty in developing OER textbooks or workbooks as a part of this pilot project. Let us know how we may help you! Contact your subject librarian or John Warren (jwarre13@gmu.edu), Head, Mason Publishing.

For more information and cover sheet, see: Course Redesign: Using Open Educational Resources

Proposals due: March 18, 2016 EXTENDED to March 21, 2016!

Award notification: April 4, 2016

Submit your proposal electronically to:

Linda Sheridan,

Deputy Coordinator, Mason 4-VA

lsherid1@gmu.edu

 

Participate in the 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication Survey

What research tools do you use to accomplish your work? How do your research habits compare with those of scholars in other parts of the world? To identify trends at Mason, we urge you to participate in the 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication Survey.

Why participate? You will learn how your use of digital research tools compares to that of your peers, and you may discover some new tools. You will inform Mason Libraries about which tools you use so that we can optimize library services and resources to better suit your needs. And you will be contributing to a global effort to chart the evolving landscape of scholarly communication.

This survey, created by researchers at Utrecht University, is part of an international effort to study adoption and use of innovative digital tools for scholarly research and publication.

Results of this international survey, as well as the final anonymized dataset, will be posted on the 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication site. Mason Libraries will share our community’s anonymized dataset and produce a publicly available report. In addition, survey results will help Mason Publishing, part of the Mason Libraries, evaluate alternative metric (altmetric) services we might offer to help you track the attention your scholarship receives.

The Innovations in Scholarly Communication Survey ends February 10, 2016. Visit http://bit.ly/ScholCommSurvey today to participate!

Share data

Open data is research data that can be freely used, reused, and redistributed by anyone. Making research data fully available and broadly accessible encourages researchers to collaborate and share resources, produce new findings, and gain deeper analytical insights into existing research.

Data Services offers support for many data-related activities including: software help, data analysis, management, archiving and sharing, as well as finding, using and acquiring data. Data Services has full-time professional faculty members who offer consultations by appointment to the Mason community as well as workshops and classroom presentations in their area(s) of expertise. For more information, contact Wendy Mann, Head of Data Services, at wmann@gmu.edu.

See below to learn more about the benefits of data sharing and the different resources you can use to support your research and manage your data.


Data Management

  • Data Management Basics (Infoguide) from George Mason University Libraries.  Provides information and tutorials on data management principles, data sharing and archiving of research data.

Data Management Plans