Two initiatives in higher education that I’ve been greatly involved with lately are Open Educational Resources (OER) and pathways (which falls under the office of completion here at Sinclair). OER usually means free, online textbooks, although they can also be other types of content and are sometimes discussed as part of a larger “textbook affordability” initiative that might have other related pieces. Guided pathways and completion initiatives encompass a wide variety of strategies to have students engage with and clarify their career goals, set up a custom program map for their academic study, and employ a holistic model among faculty and staff to ensure students are getting the support they need along the way. These ideas are related as both aim to remove barriers to students and help them complete their programs successfully, which is a major priority for community colleges in today’s age of political pressures and performance based funding models.
I’ve been fortunate to get a chance to speak about these issues and what Sinclair is doing about them at a couple of great conferences so far in 2017. In March, I presented as part of a session called “Pathway to Your Future: Road Maps for Community College Students” at the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) 2017 conference in Baltimore, which was a “Chair’s Choice Invited Program.
Then just last Friday, I participated in a panel discussion titled “Successful Approaches to Implementing an Open Educational Resource (OER) Outreach Program” at the Academic Libraries of Indiana Scholarly Communication Librarianship Conference in Indianapolis. I greatly enjoyed both opportunities and look forward to continuing to present and publish on these issues.