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Thursday, October 21 • 1:00pm - 1:25pm
Let’s Make Something For OUR Students: Value of Discipline-Specific Communities of Practice in OAER

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This presentation will share the experience of organizing and conducting OAER-supportive work through a discipline-specific community of practice (COP). Our group, the MATH OAER COP at Penn State University’s small Lehigh Valley campus, formed to explore projects related to open and affordable educational resources (OAER) specifically, and open education more generally, within the scope of our Math faculty's work.

For our first project, several members of the COP, including both Math faculty and the campus OER liaison librarian, organized to create an openly-licensed ancillary for shared Calculus courses. This ancillary, a workbook of guided examples, practice problems, and diagnostic assessments, is designed to be paired with and supplement any assigned course material. It provides simple, learner-centered explanations to help ensure students are grasping the fundamental concepts of each topic. The practice and diagnostic problems are meant to let students test their skills, but are also intended to help facilitate communication between struggling students and faculty about what exactly they don't understand.

In our discussion, we’ll cover the librarian’s experience of creating and managing the COP as well as the faculty members’ experience of participating in the COP and of authoring an OER. We’ll also focus on the thought process that led us to create an open ancillary meant to support student learning alongside an assigned text, rather than to create a new text designed to replace an existing expensive material.

Finally, we’ll touch on the challenges and benefits of a small, discipline-specific COP vs a larger OAER working group. We’ll discuss how that focus has improved our ability to engage in projects that are immediately applicable for us and our students, but that will still ultimately be of value to the larger MATH-education community as a whole as well.

After participating in this session, attendees will be able to:
  • Consider the potential benefits of focusing OAER work through disciplinary lenses, including the ability to incorporate diverse goals and views for immediate practical application
  • Explore the differences between authoring OER to replace a text vs to supplement texts
  • Consider how to approach OAER advocacy and project management via small disciplinary groups, instead of or alongside larger campus-wide initiatives


Alison Bonner

math instructor, Penn State Lehigh Valley
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Elizabeth Nelson

Reference and Instruction Librarian, Pennsylvania State University

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Thursday October 21, 2021 1:00pm - 1:25pm EDT
Room E