MSU initiative seeks to help students through Open Educational Resources

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A recently formed Mississippi State committee is raising awareness this week of a new campus initiative to make learning more affordable to students and lessen the cost of course materials.

Now through March 6, the 14-member group is recognizing Open Education Week as a way to familiarize students with Open Educational Resources, or OERs—teaching, learning and research tools free of cost and access barriers. The globally celebrated week showcases the impact of open education on teaching and learning.

An MSU Student Association and University Libraries recommendation has been accepted by MSU Provost David Shaw and other MSU administrators for the implementation of OER course materials.

MSU SA President Jake Manning, a senior biomedical engineering and software engineering double-major from Ridgeland, said the rising cost of textbooks can put a financial burden on students and affect their academic success. He said the average textbook costs between $170 and $180, so a lot of students rent or sell them back at the end of the semester to recoup some of this money for other needs.

“The OER program we’re working to implement is a win-win for students,” Manning said. “It can save them a lot of money on textbooks and ensure they retain access to that content as reference material for their upper-level classes.”

Mary Ann Jones, MSU Libraries associate professor and scholarly communication coordinator, is among faculty serving on the university’s OER steering committee. She said in addition to affordability for students, OERs provide faculty with “boundless opportunities to disseminate knowledge to a new generation of learners.”

“Educators can curate, tailor and share OERs to perfectly suit their curriculum, and share their innovations freely,” she said. “OER creation is limitless and allows for an ever-expanding creative landscape for new methods of teaching and learning.”

A timeline for implementation and further details of the OER initiative will be determined by the OER steering committee. In addition to Jones and Manning, committee members include:

—Tommy Anderson, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of English, College of Arts and Sciences

—Cheryl Bowen, director of budget and planning, Division of Student Affairs

—John Dickerson, assistant vice president for enrollment and university registrar

—Kiley Forsythe, instructional resource consultant and online learning strategist, Center for Distance Education

—Meredith Jackson, deputy chief information officer and director of enterprise information systems, Information Technology Services

—Andrew Jarosz, assistant professor, Department of Psychology

—Seongjai Kim, professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

—Kris King, instructional designer, Center for Teaching and Learning

—Deborah Lee, associate dean of public services, MSU Libraries

—Joan Lucas, general counsel

—Jennifer McPherson, financial analyst, Division of Finance and Administration

—Peter Ryan, associate provost for academic affairs

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Monday, March 2, 2020 - 4:09 pm