Monday, October 9, 2017


                     BRCC's Magnolia library is a great resource for students. But, did you also know that there are many services and activities for faculty? There are so many ways to get involved with your library, including right here in this blog! This month we are highlighting some of the ways we can help faculty with instruction and research, which ultimately leads to better teaching. Like what you read? Disagree with something posted? Feel free to leave a comment. The more interaction we have with you, the better your library services will be.

                  First, we have an update on affordable learning. Have you been interested in Open Education Resources (OER), but unsure on where to begin? have looked at OER, and decided that the resources just weren't usable? There are a variety of ways to reduce student textbook costs without actually using only OER. LOUIS Affordable Learning Louisiana is constantly building on this idea, and this article comes courtesy of Jamie Barrilleaux from LOUIS.


LOUIS Launches Affordable Learning Tools for Faculty
By Jaime Barrilleaux, Web and Communications Program Manager, LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network

A Program of the Board of Regents

LOUIS has launched several tools to support campus affordability initiatives. These tools were developed to support faculty in the selection of low-cost, or no-cost, course materials. 

Find Textbooks
The Find Textbooks tool maps open education textbooks and resources to the Louisiana Statewide Common Course Catalog. The Open Textbook Library ( is the primary source of content for this project. Content from other OER repositories will be included on an ongoing basis. This tool is available at

EDS Faculty Portal
The EDS Faculty Portal provides a simple search interface for faculty to identify content the library can purchase that can be provided free-of-charge to students in place of costly textbooks. This is the first-of-its-kind interface and several other states are interested in replicating the function of the LOUIS portal. We're adding newly-available titles each week. Faculty can go to to learn more, and search the portal.

Sage eBook Collection
LOUIS used additional funds from the Board of Regents to invest in the Complete SAGE Knowledge Collection Books, Reference and Navigator, a collection that contains over 4900 titles. This collection was selected because the content was matched against a sample course adoption title list at ten institutions and there was evidence of materials already being used by students for required course books at a diverse set of Louisiana institutions. Campuses can access the collection now through July 31, 2018. After July 31, 2018, the funds used to provide access to the entire collection will be converted to funds for each campus to retain access to individually selected eBooks in perpetuity. The funds will be prioritized for any course-adopted titles.  Learn more about the Sage eBook collection at

Learn More
Faculty can contact their campus library to learn more, or email questions to 

Librarian Peter Klubek presenting a library instruction session. 

      Librarians can partner with you in developing information literacy instruction in your class. The benefits of this type of lesson better prepare your students for learning and can lead to ever greater success in your classroom and in retention. A recent letter from Doctor Joni M. Blake, a researcher in Information Literacy and instruction, highlights some important findings.


      "Dearest Friends and Colleagues--

I'm thrilled to finally share the results of our study, "The Impact of Information Literacy Instruction on Student Success: A Multi-Institutional Investigation and Analysis".  

Our task force analyzed the data from over 42,000 first-time, first-year freshmen and over 1700 distinct courses from 12 research institutions to determine the impact(s) of information literacy instruction integrated into course curriculum on several student success measures.

Key findings include:

  • Student retention rates are higher for those students whose courses include an information literacy instruction component.

  • On average, First-Year GPA for students whose courses included information literacy instruction was higher than the GPA of students whose courses did not.

  • Students exposed to library instruction interactions successfully completed 1.8 more credit hours per year than their counterparts who did not participate in courses containing information literacy instruction.
​This is just the first year of what we hope will be a multi-year longitudinal analysis to determine if these gains are sustained and built upon with additional information literacy instruction in higher-level courses, and of course, the impact this might have on graduation rates.​  

Future years will also examine which teaching methods consistently show the highest student gains, so your member institutions can tailor their instruction programs to maximize the success of their students.  The task force is currently compiling the 2nd year of data, and we will share that with all of you when it's completed.

Please share this with your boards of directors and member institutions.  Two of my task force colleagues will be presenting these findings at the ARL meeting next week."


Joni M. Blake, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Greater Western Library Alliance
5200 W. 94th Terrace, Suite 200
Prairie Village, KS  66207

      As we continue to promote and develop Open Education Resources here at BRCC, be sure to look out for a survey in the coming weeks. LCTCS is enthusiastically supporting the use of OER and is interested in collecting data from member institutions that have offered OER courses. Let's use this opportunity to demonstrate how BRCC is a leader!

     The number of publishers promoting and developing OER also continues to expand. The interest in OER is not limited to BRCC, or to the state of Louisiana. A recent article from Inside Higher Ed announced that Cengage has embraced OER and explains how.


A Big Publisher Embraces OER

      For years, big-time publishers have been skeptical of open educational resources, questioning their quality and durability. But one of those publishers, Cengage, is today announcing a new product line built around OER.

      Cengage predicts that the use of OER -- free, adaptable educational course materials -- could triple over the next five years. In a report published last year, Cengage said that education and technology companies were ready to “embrace the movement” -- adding their own services and technology to create “value-added digital solutions that help institutions use OER to its best advantage.”

      With OpenNow, Cengage is sending its clearest signal yet that it is serious about OER. Taking OER materials freely available online from sites such as OpenStax, Cengage has added its own assessments, content and technology to the materials, which will be delivered through an “intuitive, outcomes-based” platform that can be integrated into students’ learning management systems. Focusing on general education, OpenNow has launched with courses in psychology, American government and sociology, and more courses in science, economics and the humanities will be available this fall.

      The "open" in OER is commonly understood to mean that content should be openly licensed. Accordingly, Cengage says that all written content in the OpenNow platform, including assessments and some materials that were previously under a Cengage copyright, will be registered under an open CC-BY license so that institutions can adapt and customize the content to meet their own needs.
Though the course content is ready to use “out of the box,” Cengage said that it can offer instructional design team services if desired. The OpenNow platform, and all its content, complies with Americans With Disabilities Act regulations.

      Cheryl Constantini, vice president of content strategy for Cengage, said that the content in the OpenNow platform would be “available for anyone to use for free outside of our solution.” But for those who want to use the OpenNow platform, fees start at $25 per student per course. “The $25 is for the delivery of content that’s aligned to assessment and learning objectives, the additional assessments and videos we either curated or created, and the outcomes-based platform with personalization and analytics,” said Constantini.

      The $25 price point is in line with prices charged by Lumen Learning, which has also developed proprietary OER courseware, and which could be a potential competitor for Cengage. Though obviously more expensive than finding OER content and providing it to students for free, Cengage said that the $25 price point was still affordable and would ensure access to high-quality materials. The average price point for Cengage’s other digital course-materials products is $80. Many general education courses have historically required the purchase of books that can easily top $100.
Asked why Cengage was choosing to move into the OER space now, Michael Hansen, Cengage CEO, said that the company is evolving to meet the needs of a changing market. “We respect that some of our customers want to use OER, and it has the potential to change the learning experience,” said Hansen. “OER offers pedagogical flexibility -- instructors can change it, remix it, improve it -- and students can actively contribute to it. This can make learning more engaging and effective. Giving our customers this flexibility, while providing students value, is a positive thing for everyone,” he said.

      “Instructors aren’t just looking for affordable content; they want the ownership that comes with OER. But it takes time to find and vet OER content that is current and accurate,” added Constantini. She said that a pilot launched last year by Cengage, which blended OER and proprietary content, had taught the team a lot about working with OER. “We learned how to maintain and sustain this content. And we learned how to improve it and then give it back to the community,” she said.
Richard Baraniuk, the founder of OpenStax -- a nonprofit provider of free, peer-reviewed OER textbooks, which is based at Rice University -- said he supported publishers and companies taking OpenStax content and adapting it. “We actually feel great about it; OpenStax is 100 percent oriented toward helping students, so we’re in favor of any product or service that improves student learning and saves students money,” said Baraniuk.

      Asked if he minded companies making money from OpenStax content, Baraniuk said he didn’t have a problem with companies charging for content they had added value to. He noted that while OpenStax does have several relationships with companies and publishers that provide OpenStax with a revenue stream, there are no legal restrictions on companies wishing to take OER content and build on it.

    Phil Hill, the co-publisher of the blog e-Literate and a partner at MindWires Consulting, said he was not surprised by Cengage’s OER announcement. “If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that Cengage has been saying for at least a year that they wanted to get into this space,” he said. Hill says he was surprised, however, at how aggressively Cengage seemed to be promoting OER with this announcement. “We’ve seen other publishers dipping their toes in, but this seems as if it is central to Cengage’s strategy.” He noted that the announcement could cause other publishers to accelerate their OER strategies. “The movement is not going away,” he said.
While previously OER might have been viewed as a threat to publishers who set high textbook prices, Hill said he thought there had been a shift in publishers’ opinion of OER “from threat to opportunity.” He noted that many problems faced by traditional publishers -- how to reduce prices, how to enable customers to customize content, how to ensure students have their materials on the first day of class -- were problems that OER can solve. “So why not use OER to solve them?” he asked.
And indeed other major publishers -- such as Macmillan Learning, Pearson and McGraw Hill -- have been talking about the benefits of using OER, offering help in doing so or adding business lines focused on OER.

      Hill noted that the timing of the Cengage announcement -- just before the annual Open Education Conference in Anaheim, Calif. -- was interesting. “I think this is going to cause a lot of heads to spin in the OER community,” said Hill. “There are some who are antipublisher through and through, and others who don’t mind who provides OER, as long as they are following open principles and providing cheaper curriculum to students. It’s going to be really interesting to see what the receptivity to this news is at the conference.”

      Nicole Allen, director of Open Education at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which supports the adoption of OER on campus, agreed that Cengage’s announcement signaled a shift in thinking of big publishers towards OER. “The traditional publishing industry has done a complete 180 on OER,” said Allen. While she said it was great that publishers were “getting with the program,” she said it was important for consumers to keep asking questions.
“It’s one thing to brand something as open, and another thing for it to actually be open,” Allen said. “As OER has gained momentum, more and more companies want to attach themselves to the idea of being open. But for each product that’s launched, we need to keep asking questions. Is it really open, or is it just being branded as open? Open is not just a set of attributes, it’s a set of values and practices that make education better.”

Reprinted from Inside Higher Ed

McKenzie, Lindsay. (October 10, 2017). A Big Publisher Embraces OER. Retrieved October 10, 2017 from

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