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Wednesday, November 11 • 7:30pm - 7:30pm
Oh wE aRe in the Dark! [OER in the Dark!] Reconnecting Learning in Disconnected Spaces

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In a COVID-19 pandemic learning environment, faculty and students may feel like they are ‘working in the dark’, as they remain disconnected from each other with exchanges mediated through a virtual delivery platform. Disconnection may be exacerbated by attempts to teach and learn with rolling power outages, and experiences with weak connectivity due to limited services, accessibility, and basic equipment. The unprecedented changes to the way we are expected to teach and learn is only further exacerbated for vulnerable populations encountering financial stability, food insecurity, and limited or no health coverage. Affordability of education remains a roadblock for students encountering financial hardships. In the USA, the cost of attending a 4-year public university has increased by 31% from 2007 to 2017 (U.S. Ed. Dept., 2019). The required closure by government mandated “stay-at-home” orders caused massive layoffs for students. The students who are often disproportionately impacted are low-income students who are more likely to be women, members of underrepresented ethnic minority groups, and first-generation college students (Carnevale & Smith, 2018). With a lack of quality digital access to learn remotely, students must ultimately decide if financial hardships will force them to disrupt their studies. Across the nation, degree completion rates, academic quality, and affordability are the three greatest challenges in higher education for students, their learning, and student academic success (Colvard, Watson & Park, 2018). Some departments were prepared to respond rapidly to alternative delivery modalities due to ongoing efforts with the Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) initiative that eliminated textbook costs by providing no-cost digitized resources for students. Textbook affordability is a pressing issue that relates directly to retention and graduation rates. The use of OER to reduce costs for students revealed challenges that were embedded in the technological design solution which was intended to level the uneven playing field. Different levels of digital distress are evident for students who rely heavily on the university campus onsite resources to complete their class assignments with OER materials for courses. We discuss challenges encountered for modifying OER for off-line use. Steps for attendees to consider at their own campuses when responding to improving the integration of OER in university classroom courses are provided.

Learning Outcomes: This session includes the benefits with using OER in reducing textbook costs during a rapid switch to alternative virtual delivery format mid-semester. We discuss challenges encountered for modifying OER for off-line use. Steps for attendees to consider when responding to improving the integration of OER in university classroom courses are provided, with the intent of access on or before the first day of classes to ensure equity in the distribution of educational resources.

avatar for Elaine Correa

Elaine Correa

Professor and Chair, California State University, Bakersfield
avatar for Sandra Bozarth

Sandra Bozarth

Library Dept. Chair, California State University, Bakersfield

Wednesday November 11, 2020 7:30pm - 7:30pm EST
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  COVID-19, Lightning Talk