Grant to fund the promotion of open educational resources in Iowa

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Dordt serves as fiscal agent for multi-institutional grant

Jenni Breems

Jennifer Breems, director of library services at Dordt University, is serving as one of the project coordinators for a $254,000 multi-institutional grant funded by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund. Iowa Private Academic Libraries (IPAL) applied for the funding to promote open educational resources (OER) at participating private colleges and universities in Iowa. Dordt faculty, and those at other institutions, are eligible to apply for mini-grants to support OER projects. Dordt University is the fiscal agent for this grant.

The project will encourage faculty at member institutions to integrate open educational resources (OER) in their courses.

“Open educational resources break down barriers by making textbooks available to students who might not have access,” said Breems, who also serves as secretary-treasurer for the IPAL consortium.

This grant will fund OER projects on multiple levels, allowing for institutions at all points in the adoption process of using OER materials to participate.

“By incorporating OER and eliminating the cost of textbooks, we are helping faculty enhance their students’ success,” says Breems.

Textbooks have long been a costly challenge for many college students, and open educational resources have the potential to eliminate some of those additional costs.

Faculty can be compensated for adopting materials, remixing resources, creating support tools, redesigning courses, or creating their own open space resources. Two rounds of competitive funding will allow for awards that range from $500 up to $10,000.

Serving as the grant manager is not Dordt University’s first time participating in the OER arena. One faculty member, Dr. Mike Janssen, associate professor of mathematics, contributed to the creation of an open source textbook called Rings with Inquiry, teaching students concepts through inquiry-based learning. Additionally, Dordt’s Core 110 class section utilizes an open source textbook called, The Public Speak Project, with a majority of the students choosing to use an electronic version rather than a hard copy.

Dr. Luralyn Helming also uses an OER as the primary text for her Psychology 201 course and says, “I chose it because it seemed like a flexible and cost-effective solution as I was looking at choosing a new textbook. If a good OER is available, it seems to be a stewardly use of our resources to consider its use in class.”

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.