Barriers to Finding and Using OER Decreasing

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The newest iteration of the Babson Report, officially "Opening the Textbook: Open Educational Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2017" created a stir in the closing weeks of 2017. The report shows continued growth of awareness and use of OER among the professoriate, even while barriers remain. Overcoming those barriers is the subject of a new article on Inside Higher Ed's Inside Digital Learning newsletter. The article notes the role of librarians, quoting KU Scholarly Communication Librarian and OER Initiative Lead Josh Bolick, among others:

The most endorsed tool of all among those interviewed for this article lies right under faculty members’ noses.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the magic that librarians offer in this regard,” Clifton said.

Rajiv Jhangiani, psychology instructor and special adviser on open education to the provost at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, in British Columbia, agrees. “They are the champions of open education. They’re extraordinarily knowledgeable. They’re underutilized on their campuses.”

Josh Bolick, scholarly communication librarian at the University of Kansas, believes he and his fellow library staffers indeed have plenty to offer. Bolick has spent the last two years helping launch the institution’s OER initiative, and he’s been honing his pitch to faculty members ever since. A few key components:

  1. He points faculty members to online resources that will help them find materials for their area of study. He’s careful not to imply that he’s the expert on their subject area -- that's their domain.
  2. If they’re not seeing material that meets their needs, he suggests instructors pursue grants from the institution to create it themselves. He also encourages faculty members to share what they find with colleagues who might find certain pieces more useful.
  3. Instructors should gain insight into the impact of OER accessibility from those who stand to benefit from it, Bolick argues. “A lot of instructors can be disconnected from day-to-day lived experiences of their students. If they start talking to their students, that leads to a lot of understanding and empathy.”

Josh may be reached at for consultations and other support for OER available through KU Libraries and the Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright.

  • Ada Emmett
    Director, Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright, KU Libraries
  • Josh Bolick
    Scholarly Communication Librarian
    Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright, KU Libraries
  • Marianne Reed
    Digital Initiatives Manager
    Digital Initiatives, KU Libraries
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