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NVU Faculty Appointed to NEBHE Open Education Resources Community of Practice

NVU Associate Professor Kathleen Brinegar Appointed Vermont Faculty Representative for the NEBHE Open Education Resources Community of Practice

Kathleen Brinegar, associate professor of Education at Northern Vermont University, has been chosen as the Vermont representative to the New England Board of Higher Education’s Open Education Resources Community of Practice. The Community of Practice encourages the use of open education resources to ease the costs of education for students and increase student engagement through the use of learner-centered teaching practices.

“Promoting open education resources to a wider audience encourages thinking about all of the costs of education, including the hidden costs such as textbooks,” Brinegar said. “Open access educational resources can replace expensive textbooks, for instance, and can be easily altered to meet the needs of the class.”

How open access educational resources may be used is broadly explained as the “five R’s”:

  1. Reuse – Share freely and widely.
  2. Retain – Access remains free of charge and anyone can access the materials. This means that students can continue to access their course materials even after the semester ends. In contrast, traditional textbooks that need to be resold to pay for new ones cannot be accessed again, and even library access may be limited after a course is completed or a student graduates.
  3. Revise – To increase relevancy to a particular course or outcome, students and instructors may change a textbook to make it relevant for the course and for the users; this applies to artwork and video, too, with revision offering the potential to broaden the cultural representation of the material as well.
  4. Remix – The chapter order, flow or content may be altered and/or multiple resources may be combined.
  5. Redistribute – Revised resources are shared openly for others to use.

For example, here’s how this might apply to educators. Using the commons, a faculty member may search for the area of study they’ll be teaching about, and then choose pieces from a variety of course materials, including open access textbooks, uploaded by others. The faculty member can then use the materials as they are or add their own ideas to create something to fit the needs of their classes, which they can later share back to the commons for others to use.

While materials with open access licenses may raise concerns about the accuracy of the author’s perspective, for instance, it’s important to keep in mind that “just because something has been published [in a book] doesn’t mean it’s accurate either,” said Brinegar. “The development of critical thinking and literacy skills are a key part of education. Learners should be taught to be critical of all content to help ensure they learn how to assess information for both accuracy and inclusivity. When students create Open Education Resources, they move from consumers to creators of information that’s available in the public domain.”

Brinegar will share what she learns in her work with NEHBE’s Community of Practice with the VSCS community through Northern Vermont University’s Center for Teaching and Learning, as well as across VSCS schools. The VSCS Chancellor’s Office and Board of Trustees have made a commitment to Open Education Resources. See the NEBHE Community of Practice webpage for more information.