Lehigh Valley holds first-ever conference devoted to open, affordable resources

PSU-LV Lecturer Larry Musolino poses for camera after winning award.

Penn State Lehigh Valley Lecturer in Mathematics Larry Musolino, pictured, received the OAER Champion Award for his lightning talk at the campus's first-ever Open and Affordable Showcase. The conference allowed faculty and staff to share insights on open and affordable educational resources. 

Credit: Corey McDonough

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — During the past few years, many Penn State Lehigh Valley faculty members have made it a priority to incorporate open and affordable educational resources (OAER) into their classroom instruction.

That commitment was on vivid display at the first-ever Penn State Lehigh Valley Open and Affordable Showcase, a half-day conference sponsored by the campus Library and Academic Affairs. There, attending faculty and staff had the chance to recognize and celebrate OAER-related work at the campus, and to advance the importance of the resources in regard to student access, affordability and retention.

Open educational resources are defined by Penn State as “a teaching, learning or research resource that is offered freely to users in at least one form and that resides in the public domain or has been released under an open copyright license that allows for its free use, reuse, modification and sharing with attribution.” Meanwhile, according to the University, affordable educational resources are “any required course material that students purchase for less than $50. This may include low-cost or no-cost options and library materials that do not have an open license.”

“This is a relatively new and fast-growing movement within academia,” said Reference and Instruction Librarian Elizabeth Nelson, who coordinated the event with Head Librarian Jennifer Jarson. “According to a lot of students, many of these free resources are often better quality than paid materials.”

“Free does not mean low quality. These are high-quality resources,” added Professor of Marketing Denise Ogden.

Ogden and five other faculty members presented a series of 15-minute “lightning talks” that allowed them to discuss their own personal experiences with OAER. They were:

  • Ogden, “Free Resources to Enhance Educational Experiences.”
  • Assistant Teaching Professor of Mathematics Alison Bonner, “Less Hassle Using Canvas Ready OER for Math (or Other STEM) Classes.”
  • Lecturer in Engineering Tracey Carbonetto, “Open Educational Resources for Engineering Courses.”
  • Lecturer in Spanish Ana Serrano-Martinez, “OER in PressBooks: Creating OER Materials and Going Beyond the Textbook.”
  • Lecturer in Mathematics Larry Musolino, “Sharing the OER Pie at Penn State.”
  • Professor of Psychology David Livert, “Symphonie de l'Abordable: OAER in Four Movements.”

From there, the attendees broke up into groups to take part in three roundtable discussions:

  • "OAER for Beginners,” led by Nelson.
  • "Teaching with Sustainable Assignments,” led by Carbonetto.
  • "Student Involvement in Open Education,” led by Serrano-Martinez.

Following a brainstorming session on additional uses of OAER, Chancellor Tina Q. Richardson presented Musolino with the OAER Champion Award for his lightning talk.

A pilot initiative recognizing excellence, innovation and impact in OAER, the Champion Award was created and is being supported by a collaboration between University Libraries and the University-wide Open Working Group. In addition to Lehigh Valley, the award is now being implemented through the libraries at the Abington, Behrend, Berks and Mont Alto campuses.

For more information on OAER at Penn State, visit oer.psu.edu.