Exploring OER with the Open Textbook Network


Faculty at GVSU… are YOU:

  • CONCERNED about the impact of high textbook costs on students?

  • INTERESTED in finding course materials that you can freely revise and adapt?

  • CURIOUS why people keep talking about Open Educational Resources (OER) at conferences, workshops, and campus events?

On October 22, the University Libraries are hosting two visitors from the Open Textbook Network, a national consortium of academic institutions advancing the use of OER, for a full day of workshops and meetings.

Guest presenters Marilyn Billings (University of Massachusetts – Amherst) and Meggie Mapes (University of Kansas) are passionate, successful advocates for OER, and are presenting a badge-eligible workshop for any interested faculty instructors.

Open Opportunities: Exploring OER with the Open Textbook Network is a two-hour workshop focused on discovering and evaluating OER for potential use in a course. This badge-eligible session is specifically designed to provide an introduction to OER and kick-start attendee’s exploration of high-quality open textbooks.

Open Opportunities Workshop

TIME: 1:00 – 3:00 PM
DATE: October 22

Access full details and registration in Sprout.

If you have any questions about this professional development opportunity or OER in general, please feel free to contact Matt Ruen, Scholarly Communications Outreach Coordinator, ruenm@gvsu.edu.

ELI Key Issues in Teaching and Learning

keyissues2019ELIRecently, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative released the 2019 “Key Issues in Teaching and Learning“.

Each year, ELI surveys the higher education community to determine key issues and opportunities in postsecondary teaching and learning. These key issues serve as the framework, or focal points, for our discussions and programming throughout the coming year.

More than 1,400 community members voted, and the following were identified as the 2019 Key Issues.

This blog post captures the highlights from the ELI’s 2019 Key Issues with alignment and connection to the work of the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at GVSU.


1 – Faculty Development & Engagement

ELI1The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at GVSU is on mission to engage with faculty and to “Support faculty pursuing innovation in teaching and learning…”

Innovation in teaching and learning happens when technology is creatively applied to craft active learning techniques that help students most efficiently achieve learning objectives.

The following facets of the eLearning team provide effective faculty development at GVSU:

From a professional development perspective, the eLearning team offers: consultations and coaching, on demand support, seminars and workshops, a teaching and technology podcast, tips for teaching with technology, faculty learning communities, video “TECHBytes”, and a “Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium” that has been held for 18 years.

2 – Online & Blending Learning

ELI2Distance education continues to grow at GVSU with a +25% increase in enrollment in online/hybrid classes since 2017.  With over 5,000 student enrollments in the Fall 2018 semester, just over 17% of all students are taking at least 1 online or hybrid course.

To support distance education initiatives, eLearning and Emerging Technologies has trained over 250 faculty to teach online/hybrid classes in the past year through the Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery course.

As one of the most desired professional development opportunities, the “Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery” workshop  is a required training for all faculty that teach an online or a hybrid class at GVSU. As part of this professional development, Blackboard competencies are also required.

As faculty begin to engage with online and blended learning, and construct courses to serve remote learners, the skills and techniques learned also provide extensive benefits to on-campus students as well.

3 – Instructional & Learning Experience Design

ELI3Through the IDeL group of instructional designers, the eLearning team facilitates faculty learning communities on the topic of online teaching and learning, enhancing the skills of faculty. The instructional designers have also established TIP (theory into practice) sheets, offering guidance to faculty in the use of student feedback to help shape and improve teaching.

The eLearning team also hosts regular weekly open office hours to connect directly with faculty, enabling opportunities to focus on learning experience design by leveraging technology.

Finally, each year, the eLearning team organizes the Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium to provide a venue to showcase unique innovative pedagogical approaches based on peer experience in delivering high quality courses.

4 – Digital & Information Literacy

ELI4GVSU has established opportunities for students to build literacy and fluency as it relates to the use of everything digital. The eLearning team supports equipping the digital literacy of students and the campus community by offering a variety of enterprise applications and services.

The eLearning Digital Studio maintains a vast project list that provides great breadth and depth of leveraging to technology that contributes to dialogue around 21st century literacy skills for students.

Virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, and a wide array of other emerging technologies are provided to students through the Atomic Object Technology Showcase.

Further, the eLearning team is looking into the future by working collaboratively to establish more support for student-based digital media creation at GVSU through a potential “Digital Media Center“.

5 – Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

ELI5Diversity, equity, and inclusion is “built-in to the DNA” at GVSU through the university’s vision:  “GVSU demonstrates its commitment to providing an inclusive learning environment where all students can explore new directions, find their niches, and develop skills for life and productive careers.”

The eLearning team focuses on supporting inclusive education through accessibility and UDL by equipping faculty. Blackboard Ally was adopted and put into production at GVSU in the summer of 2018 to:  generate awareness, build capacity, and increase institutional oversight of accessibility.

In addition, Panopto was implemented to provide video caption capability for faculty who are using instructional video content in their teaching. Both Ally and Panopto support the principles of inclusive education through accessibility and UDL.

6 – Competency and New Methods of Assessment

ELI6eLearning facilitated the implementation of open badges for faculty professional development in partnership with the Faculty Teaching and Learning Center and University Libraries at GVSU.  In fact, the first badge awarded at GVSU was eLearning and Emerging Technologies’s “#EdTech Summer Teaching Institute” badge. Further, 7 badges are currently offered by eLearning, including 4 Blackboard badges, a digital media badge, and a badge for the successful completion of Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery.

GVSU also offers a variety of credit and non-credit student badges such as mobile computing, data analytics, and cybersecurity.

7 – Learning Analytics

ELI7Taking advantage of “big” data and “small” data through analytics offers many opportunities.

BIG data, meaning the large scale and mass amounts of data that can inform strategic decisions. Also, SMALL data in the use of course level information about students and their levels of engagement in their courses. Solutions that include early alert, intervention, and that provide student insights empower faculty and advisors with unique capabilities in the support of early alert to improve student retention.

Applications such as Starfish Retention Solutions and Blackboard Predict provide capabilities to inform faculty and advisors with students at-risk through early alert, and also at the individual instructor level through in course tools such as the Blackboard Retention Center.

Notable also is “Clicks, Grades, Engagement, and Student Success” whereby, Blackboard has provided research in how successful students are using learning management system tools based on learning analytics.

“The most successful students are those who access MyGrades most frequently; students doing poorly do not access their grades. Students who never access their grades are more likely to fail than students who access them at least once.”

8 – Open Education

ELI8GVSU has been involved in the open education resources (OER) movement for many years, and most recently has seen a growth in the adoption and use of #OER in teaching and learning. For example, there have been several adoptions of OpenStax textbooks in Chemistry and Mathematics and a new interdisciplinary team lead by the university’s library is helping to coordinate resources and raise awareness.

In fact, GVSU has been participating with the K-12 community through the #GOOPEN initiative as part of the US Department of Education’s goal to encourage states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning. GVSU joined the K-12 #GOOPEN initiative in January last year.

Further, there has been activity across the state for several years, and one recent example is the #MIOERSummit, which brought together faculty across the state with the goal of improving student success through the use and adoption of OER. At GVSU, students have saved over $480,000 in textbook costs, with 3000+ course sections each semester that require no paper textbook.

9 – Evaluating Instructional & Learning Innovations


Gathering data to inform decision making enables measurement and supports continuous quality improvement.

The eLearning team has used surveys to gather improvement recommendations for the Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Design and Development course, Blackboard, and also the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research survey of faculty and students and their attitudes and use of technology in education.

10 – Academic Transformation


The eLearning team aligns with GVSU’s 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas that support academic transformation and innovative faculty development and strategic academic transformation:

Institutional outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 1.D.2: At least 93% of faculty members regularly use electronic course management tools, such as Blackboard, in their teaching.

Objective 3.D.2: At least 30% of undergraduate courses are offered in innovative approaches and formats, such as hybrid, online and competency-oriented.

Objective 3.D.3: At least 30% of graduate courses are offered in innovative approaches and such as hybrid, online and competency-oriented.

Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution.

As part of the eLearning team’s work toward academic transformation, the latest emerging technologies are a focus of the Atomic Object Technology Showcase. The mission of the showcase is to provide faculty, staff, and students with an immersive and engaging environment to: interactdiscoverlearn, and share how innovative emerging technologies can enhance teaching and improve student learning at GVSU. With over 40 emerging technology exhibits that include virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D printing and makerspace, the showcase is an outstanding and very unique example of education, technology, and innovation.

See also: “EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative ‘2018 Key Issues’ Meet the Initiatives in eLearning at GVSU


eLearning team participates in OPEN GVSU Symposium

On Monday, October 22, the eLearning team participated in the Open GVSU Symposium held in the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons.

This event was held to kick off Open Access Week.  In brief, Open Access Week is a global event that is focused on promoting and highlighting “Open” education, activities, and open educational resources (OER). “Open” in this case refers to resources that are freely available online, and not behind a paid firewall or closed off to the public.


Also see:

The symposium included a keynote by Regina Gong, OER Project Manager, Lansing Community College.


Glenna Decker, Vince St. Germain, Sherry Barricklow, Justin Melick, Hunter Bridwell, and Eric Kunnen attended the event and facilitated roundtable discussions on instructional design, instructional technology, and digital media development resources that are available through the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team.


Also, the Student Senate announced 2 awards that will recognize faculty champions of OER. More on these awards will be announced in the next few months.


eLearning Team Supports OER

eLearning and Emerging Technologies provides faculty with support to:

  • Incorporate OER to make courses more flexible and effective
  • Explore learning object repositories and open textbook materials to discover effective OER
  • Learn tools and technologies for creating customized instructional materials with OER
  • Leverage OER in teaching by applying quality instructional design
  • Integrate OER into Blackboard courses, assignments, and assessments

Check out the eLearning OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES web page for more information about  #OER and how the eLearning team can support you!

eLearning team attends 2018 MI OER Summit #MIOERSummit


Vince St. Germain, Hunter Bridwell, and Eric Kunnen from the eLearning team attended the 2018 MI OER Summit that was held at St. Clair County Community College in Port Huron, MI on September 21. In attendance at this event also was Annie Belanger, Jeffrey Daniels, and Matt Ruen from University Libraries, and Genevieve Elrod, Karyn Butler and Susan Strouse faculty Kirkhof College of Nursing.

See also: Nursing faculty publish OER book

This event is all about bringing together open education advocates and supporters for a day of networking, sharing and learning about the uses of open educational resources (OER) at their institutions.

Here is the conference program [pdf].

The keynote address was:

3b496b2d547be3677623693624656284Interrogating Access: Privacy, Equity & Open Education

by Dr. Chris Gilliard, Professor of English and Rhetoric, Macomb Community College, Faculty, 2018 Digital Pedagogy Lab, University of Mary Washington

The advantages of Open Educational Resources often conceal risks, particularly highly consequential risks to the privacy of working class students, students of color, and others from the margins of the student population. Exposing the vulnerabilities of OER to misuse in the contemporary world of surveillance capitalism not only reshapes our understanding of the movement itself, but also serves as a case study of the larger dangers of of “Edtech.”

In addition to a keynote, there were also 18 breakout sessions, including a session by GVSU faculty and staff entitled: “Standing on the Threshold with Faculty-focused OER”.


Pictured left to right: Genevieve Elrod, Susan Strouse, Hunter Bridwell, and Matt Ruen

In the session by GVSU, presenters discussed their process of recently entering the OER world. Rather than a textbook, they compiled a handbook of lesson plans for faculty teaching introductory research. The presenters discussed the creation, collaboration, and dissemination involved in this project as well as their future plans. Genevieve Elrod, Susan Strouse, and Karyn Butler also presented their work at a Kirkhof College of Nursing faculty meeting.

Vince St. Germain, eLearning and Instructional Technology Specialist, captured the following notes from a variety of couple of sessions:

Takeaways from Running an OER Workshop for Faculty

Stephen Finlay – Indiana University-South Bend

Key Take-Aways from the session.

  1. Don’t just talk about the cost benefits.
  2. Use existing Library subscriptions and databases.
  3. The use of multiple OER sources in a course move beyond the confines of a single textbook. Create a suite of resources (there is no one perfect text).
  4. Find a faculty champion. Counter the naysayers with faculty to faculty groups and discussions.
  5. Use more technology. Flip the classroom.

Just DOER it: Designing Renewable Assessments with Open Educational Resources

Marisa Enos – Mid Michigan College

Are your assessments Renewable or landfill? Landfill or disposable assignments are those that a student throws away at the end of the semester.

Use the 5R Open Course Design Framework when thinking about and creating assessments.

  • Reuse
  • Revise
  • Remix
  • Redistribute
  • Retain

Open permits students to learn in new ways. Engage students in their work by making it more meaningful and useful (purposeful).

Hunter Bridwell, Digital Media Developer, captured the following notes during the conference:

Lessons from an OER Faculty Learning Community (305)

Northwestern Michigan College: Sarah Wangler, Mella McCormick

“In this presentation, open to all audiences, the facilitator and faculty learning community members discuss lessons learned about searching for, adopting, and implementing OERs in writing classes as both text and experiential learning as part of a FLC at Northwestern Michigan College.”

Who runs the course, you or the textbook?

  • Teaching philosophy online with OER. “Rethink the values of my discipline” what does that mean in Philosophy? Rethink discourse!
  • Asynchronistic discourse or “intellectual discourse”
  • Get rid of the textbook meant you had more resources.


Description: I practically tore my hair out in trying to find a way to genuinely honor the practice of the Socratic method in my online philosophy class. I soon discovered that the solution lies in viewing the values that are fundamental to your academic discipline in non-traditional ways. This presentation will share with you concrete examples and ideas for doing this in your own discipline including the non-traditional approach of teaching a course without a text hook.

My story challenge:

  • Core value in philosophy: Socratic Method
  • Traditional approach: Verbal dialogue
  • Re-thinking the meaning of dialogue for the online environment: I replaced the traditional verbal dialogue with an on-line intellectual dialogue wherein the instructor primes the “conversation by presenting the students with course content that is paired with probing questions that the student needs to think-through on her/his own first. The course content and probing questions are enriched and enhanced by custom-made video lessons that are designed to push the student’s thinking beyond its status quo by presenting alternative viewpoints, diving deeper into the content and challenging the student to ‘stretch’ her/his thinking.

Non-Traditional Teaching Opportunities: Teaching without a textbook. Replace textbooks with digital and/or audio text materials. Replace a chapter from the text book with alternative resources such as: Ted Talks, YouTube videos, case studies, Khan Academy, Problem Based Learning, Service Learning, Cross-disciplinary projects. Identify a particular topic from your course that students traditionally struggle with Create a custom-made video that explores the topic in more depth and interacts with the student on a more personal level.

Your Story/Challenge:

  • What are the core values in your academic discipline?
  • What are the “standard” or “traditional ways that these values are practiced in your discipline?
  • How can you “re-think” or “re-invent” your discipline values, especially in light of changing technology, changing student needs, and a changing environment?”


Kenda Lake and Tina Ulrich

  • Openwashing- giving something an appearance of open-source and open licensing for marketing purposes, will continuing proprietary practices
  • Derived from “Greenwashing”
  • “Inclusive Access” – co-opt the idea of a library with a fee. No access for perpetuity.
  • Guiding Principles
  • Common values
    • Adding value
    • Giving more than you take
    • Transparency about what you are using and selling
    • Attribution
    • Developing Trust
    • Not Exploiting
    • Defending the commons


Lisa Petrides, Toward a Sustainable OER Ecosystem

  •      Clearly shows the source authoring license
  •      Links to the CC license
  •      Proudly displays OpenStax partner status

Release! & Empower!

  • An appropriate stance for OER advocates when reviewing “OPEN” products from publishers.


“Questions to ask vendors who claim to be “open.”

  • Is the company or organization just using what others have created or are they somehow contributing back to the content provider? Is the company giving more than they take? Contribute
  • Does the average end-user (students & faculty members) know where the content came from? (Attribute)
  • Could the average end user (students & faculty members) easily download and retain the content? (Release)
  • Is the company or organization making it easy for others to expand upon the work to make it available to more learners? (Empower)

Kendra & Tina’s Questions:

  • Do students know they are paying for it and are they given a choice to opt out?
  • Is their marketing in any way exaggerating or obscuring proprietary practices?
  • What value are they claiming to add to the original material?
  • Is the company participating in good faith with the OER community?

Learn more about OER (open educational resources) and the support offered by the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at GVSU.

The event was organized and facilitated through Michigan Colleges Online.


@GVSU faculty and staff attend #MIOERSUMMIT

On Friday, September 22, 9 faculty and staff from GVSU attended the Michigan OER Summit to connect with other faculty across the state in discovering ways to improve student success through the adoption and use of open educational resources.


Pictured Left to Right: Vince St. Germain, Eric Kunnen, Hunter Bridwell, (Dr. Robin DeRosa, Keynote Speaker), Matt Ruen, Genevieve Elrod, Debbie Morrow, Jacklyn Rander, Susan Strouse and Karyn Butler (Not Pictured)

Michigan Colleges Online organized the 2017 MI OER Summit and the goal was to gather together to collaborate about how to advance education through open educational resources.  This year, the event was hosted by Kellogg Community College (Battle Creek, MI) at the Binda Performing Arts Center.

speaker The keynote for the Summit was provided by Dr. Robin DeRosa – professor and chair of Interdisciplinary Studies at Plymouth State University, New Hampshire.

The keynote session title was: “Harnessing the Power of OPEN: How Open Education Can Transform Our Assignments, Courses, and Colleges”

In her presentation, Robin focused on how we can come together as a community of learners to transform courses, assignments, and ultimately, our public colleges and universities. With a special focus on Open Educational Resources and Open Pedagogy, Robin offered both ideas to re-inspire a sense of mission in public college instructors and examples of non-disposable assignments that will get students actively contributing to the knowledge commons.

The presentation introduced participants to the idea of connected learning, and offered new ways of conceiving of course architecture to better link students with their scholarly and professional communities of practice.


#MIOERSUMMIT Keynote Highlights

Here are a few of the key points shared in the keynote:

  • 56% of students pay more than $300 per semester and 20% of students pay more than $500 per semester on textbooks.
  • Students worry more about paying for books than worry about paying for college.
  • Open pedagogy is the piece that happens when students are producers of knowledge not just consumers.
  • OPEN is about access to knowledge and access to knowledge creation.
  • Areas of Caution: Digital redlining and the digital divide are real and insidious. Open is not the opposite of private. EdTech is selling something. Open is a process not a panacea.
  • Learn more about this event, along with additional highlights from the keynote on Eric Kunnen’s blog.

In addition to the keynote, there were a variety of breakout sessions by universities and community colleges across Michigan.


Open Education: Putting the PUBLIC back in public Higher Ed.

Learn more about this event, including additional notes from the keynote on Eric Kunnen’s blog

2017 OER SUMMIT to Focus on Open Educational Resources to Transform Courses

Attention:  GVSU Professors! Have you ever thought of adopting an open textbook, or perhaps leveraging creative commons licensed resources to enhance your course? This event is for you! Join faculty from across the state to discuss, share, and learn how to enhance courses with OER!

The 2017 OER Summit will be held on September 22, 2017 at the Battle Creek campus of Kellogg Community College.

Registration is now OPEN!


The keynote for the Summit is provided by Dr. Robin DeRosa – professor and chair of Interdisciplinary Studies at Plymouth State University, New Hampshire.

“Harnessing the Power of OPEN: How Open Education Can Transform Our Assignments, Courses, and Colleges”

In this presentation, Robin will focus on how we can come together as a community of learners to transform courses, assignments, and ultimately, our public colleges and universities. With a special focus on Open Educational Resources and Open Pedagogy, Robin will offer both ideas to re-inspire a sense of mission in public college instructors and examples of non-disposable assignments that will get students actively contributing to the knowledge commons. The presentation will introduce participants to the idea of connected learning, and offer new ways of conceiving of course architecture to better link students with their scholarly and professional communities of practice. Those who are fluent with using new technologies and/or OERs in their courses and those who are just beginning to explore and learn are equally encouraged to attend.


GVSU participates in Michigan #GoOpen Initiative

On Wednesday, January 11, Matt Ruen from University Libraries and Eric Kunnen from eLearning attended a Michigan #GoOpen Initiative Community Meeting in Lansing at the Department of Education.

In short, the Michigan #GoOpen initiative is about collaborating P-20 to provide equitable access to high-quality open educational resources to transform learning.  The community meeting provided an opportunity for K12, HigherEd institutions, and the Department of Education to begin discussing how the state can align resources to advance open education resources (OER).

Throughout the day, a variety of national and state initiatives were highlighted such as the National Education Technology Plan which includes elements of OER in a goal to provide opportunity for all students to be successful through effective use of technology.

The National Education Technology Plan provides a vision of transformational learning experiences powered by technology that can shrink long-standing equity and accessibility gaps.

The US Department of Education’s established a #GoOpen campaign to create an organized movement around OER and their definition is:

#GoOpen campaign encourages states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning.

Regarding the national #GoOpen campaign, there are 4 Michigan school districts that are part of the USA Department of Education Office of Educational Technology’s #GoOpen Launch program:

  • Dryden Community Schools, MI
  • Marlette Community Schools, MI
  • Marysville Public Schools, MI
  • Mona Shores Public Schools, MI
  • Wayland Union Schools, MI

These school districts, along with the state’s Top 10 in 10 vision for “putting Michigan on the map as a premier education state”, has brought together the Michigan Department of Education, Library of Michigan, Open Michigan (U of M), GVSU, Lansing Community College, Michigan Colleges Online, and many other K-12 educational organizations in the establishment of a state organized #GoOpen Initiative.

The State of Michigan’s #GoOpen definition is:

#GoOpen Michigan is a community where educators and learners can access freely licensed, high-quality digital resources to enable equitable transformative learning experiences [for P-20].

Stay tuned for more news about this initiative and you can learn more about using #OER and the services/support/resources available to faculty through the GVSU open education resources initiative web site.