NEBHE and Sister Regional Compacts Exploring National Work on Open Educational Resources

By NEBHE Staff

The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) and its sister regional higher education compact organizations—the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) as well as the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET)—are exploring the development of a national network to support scaling and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) across state lines.

OER has been defined by the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation as teaching, learning and research materials in any medium—digital or otherwise—that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.

OER is one way college and university leaders are working across state lines to reduce barriers faced by students and empower faculty with access to a wide range of instructional materials.

“Saving students money on textbooks is critical. No student should have to decide between basic human needs like buying groceries or medications, paying rent and utility bills, going to the doctor or buying their textbooks,” noted Lindsey Gumb, NEBHE Open Education Fellow in her NEJHE piece, Open Matters: A Brief Intro.

”Working in concert, the regional compacts will lead their states in initiatives aimed at reducing the cost of college and increasing the quality of pedagogy through the adoption of OER. The overarching goal of this national network is to promote educational access and equity by removing barriers to postsecondary attainment,” said Tanya Spilovoy, director of open policy at the WCET.

Funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been awarded to support the research efforts and coordination of a national focus group during a Spring 2020 planning period. The planning period serves to scale the adoption of high-quality OER using sustainable models and appropriate materials across regions of the country and for individual states. This initiative will lead to evidence-based frameworks, guidelines and structures to efficiently leverage the compacts’ existing relationships with states and institutions.

“Open Educational Resources clearly save students significant money and increase the likelihood of their full participation and completion of courses. OER supports savings and success. And NEBHE is pleased to collaborate with its fellow regional compact organizations to help support states in building greater awareness, commitment and capacity to deliver the benefits OER provides,” said NEBHE President and CEO Michael K. Thomas.

To learn more about NEBHE’s work in Open Education, please visit us online or contact NEBHE Open Education Fellow Lindsey Gumb.






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