2021 OER Champion Awards

By | May 14, 2021

Open Oregon Educational Resources recognizes OER champions who have done outstanding open education work in Oregon’s community colleges and universities. Congratulations champions!

Sisi Virasak, Linn-Benton Community College Institutional Advocacy and Leadership Sisi is passionate about supporting students and advocating for OER in her department. She takes student concerns seriously and dedicates herself to removing barriers to their success. She is one of the faculty who flipped LBCC’s high enrollment Digital Literacy (CS 120) to OER. Not only did this save students money, but it improved the accessibility of the course. Sisi has also worked on OER for CS 160, CIS 125, CIS 135S, and CS 275. Many of these have been complex projects that involve innovating with technology. Sisi makes a practice of including colleagues and students in creating and reviewing her materials. LBCC’s Computer Science department is close to being one of the first to have $0 textbook costs, and when that happens it will be largely thanks to Sisi.
Stacie Williams, Portland Community College Institutional Advocacy and Leadership Stacie has been using open resources in her own courses for years. Over the past couple of years, especially, she has used her own experience with open as an instructor to advance open initiatives and projects at PCC. Stacie serves on many influential groups at the college, and she has been an active and visible advocate for the development of our textbook affordability plan, for our work with open practices as a force for equity, and for the adoption of open resources and practices in general. As a communications instructor, she has helped PCC shape our open education messaging in order to present a clear, appealing and student-centered message that helps open education move forward at PCC.
Leanne Merrill, Western Oregon University OER Creation and Advocacy Just weeks before the COVID-19 crisis hit the US, Dr. Leanne Merrill received one of Western Oregon University’s first OER awards to create a Math 110 textbook (forthcoming). Moving her entire course load to remote learning was a herculean lift by itself, so Dr. Merrill could’ve been forgiven for postponing the OER work. Instead, she decided to write the textbook and create accompanying videos at the same time she taught Math 110 — and her other classes — online for the first time. If that wasn’t enough, Dr. Merrill also wrote a blog post documenting her experience. Leanne has also been relentless in her pursuit of OER use at WOU. Before her arrival in 2017 most Mathematics courses used traditional, commercial textbooks. Through her OER advocacy, though, students can now take eight lower division and many upper division courses (including high enrollment courses) without purchasing a textbook.
Patricia Flatt, Western Oregon University OER Creation and Advocacy Dr. Patricia Flatt was instrumental in developing Chemistry OER long before Western Oregon University initiated an OER program of its own. She received a 2015 HB 2871 grant to develop the Open Source Learning Materials for Introductory Chemistry Coursework initiative. Dr. Flatt and a small team of students wrote the texts and created a number of ancillary materials (e.g., homework assignments, video tutorials, quizzes). Not only do these open resources serve undergraduate students, but they’re also used in the Oregon Willamette Promise Program, which allows high school students to receive college credit before coming to campus. Patty has since received additional funding to create OER for CH 450 and CH 451. Her leadership in WOU’s OER efforts are also evident in her membership on the university’s Textbook Affordability Committee and participation in several OER related professional development opportunities afforded through Open Oregon Educational Resources.
Holly Wheeler, Mt. Hood Community College OER Metadata Standardization Holly is a truly outstanding OER champion behind the scenes for her multiple roles in OER metadata standardization, to improve the OER discovery experience for everyone. For the past two years she’s been creating and sharing her MARC records for OER published by MHCC Library Press, adding and enhancing OER bibliographic records in OCLC, and sharing the MARC template with technical services librarians throughout the Orbis Cascade Alliance, thereby influencing OER bibliographic control throughout the Pacific Northwest. On a national level, Holly’s OER MARC template is one of the 3 founding metadata languages of the OER Metadata Rosetta Stone that she built in collaboration with a group of librarians and information science professionals through SPARC. In this group, Holly translated her OER MARC fields to Dublin Core and LRMI, which lays the groundwork for crosswalks between different OER repositories and search engines around the world, such as OER Commons, CC Search, and SUNY’s OASIS. Holly is, without a doubt, one of the world leaders in OER metadata standardization, and MHCC’s OER program would not be where it is today without her.
Jane Sandberg, Linn-Benton Community College Open Pedagogy Innovator Jane created the first queer studies course at Linn-Benton Community College, QS 262. She made it OER and used open pedagogy through Wikiedu. She has coached others and shared about her open pedagogy project with colleagues on campus. Jane has also supported OER through her open source software expertise, setting up and administering CommunityArchive@LBCC, Linn-Benton’s institutional repository, and the Open Oregon FAQs. Jane has done so much to advance openness as an open librarian, open teacher, and open source coder.
Liz Pearce, Linn-Benton Community College Open Pedagogy Innovator Liz’s open pedagogy book, Contemporary Families, brought many in the LBCC community together to create a book that reflects our families as well as the larger research on families. It is making a big impact in its first year of publication, and Liz is continuing to add student-authored chapters and has already drafted another OER. Liz embodies the spirit of openness in the way she fosters and leads diverse teams and through her championship of open pedagogy, locally and statewide.
Jenny Ceciliano & Lisa Notman, Portland State University Open Pedagogy, Equity, & Social Justice Jenny and Lisa created a new introductory Spanish OER, ¡Empecemos por aquí! This OER is in its second year of use at Portland State University and will be formally published through PDXOpen in September. Nearly 1,000 students to date have benefitted from a language program that was built specifically for them and celebrates the knowledge they bring to the table as adults. The book addresses issues of racism, trans experiences, indigenous experiences, and many other experiences, constantly seeking to bring diverse voices to the center of the conversation and allow students to share their own diverse experiences.

Jenny took on the incredible task of creating this OER on top of her duties as coordinator of first-year Spanish at Portland State University. She has created a program that is centered on theories of adult learning, theories of language acquisition, and practices of social justice pedagogy. Jenny’s hard work and perseverance through the process deserve recognition.

Lisa’s contributions to the textbook have been outstanding in the areas of equity, inclusion, and especially social justice. She found and incorporated dozens of authentic recordings and texts, through which students in these courses learn about the experiences of historically marginalized groups directly from those affected. Lisa embodies what it means to be an OER champion, as her work in building social justice into the OER text for Beginning Spanish students at Portland State University is truly outstanding.

Michaela Willi Hooper, Linn-Benton Community College Open Pedagogy, Equity, & Social Justice Two-time champion Michaela demonstrates her commitment to equity with creative efforts to expose faculty to the benefits of open educational resources. Her librarian position is focused on increasing the number of OERs at LBCC. But Michaela goes above and beyond in the areas of equity and quality. Equity, diversity, and inclusion are threads that run through all of her thinking and she instills these lenses into her collaborative projects.

LBCC faculty member Liz Pearce writes: “I had the great fortune to have Michaela involved in the open pedagogy project and creation of the textbook Contemporary Families: An Equity Lens. While I am the author, the project and the book simply could not have been created without Michaela. Her ability to see what is missing along with what could be, is invaluable. Her immeasurable skills in technical and content-based areas is astounding; I’m really not sure that I know anyone who is so very good at so many things. She fills in the gaps and she visions what hasn’t yet been created. And all of this, with the gentlest of tones that invites others to be their best selves. Her approach to equity, collaboration, and open education make her a champion.”

Alice Callahan, Heather Leonard, & Tamberly Powell, Lane Community College Outstanding Publication Alice, Heather, and Tamberly developed the open textbook Nutrition: Science and Everyday Application to replace the course materials for all sections of Lane Community College’s FN 225 course. They received initial pilot funding from the college’s internal OER program and additional funding to complete their project from Open Oregon Educational Resources. The finished OER is a beautiful 11-unit, 500+ page textbook filled with stunning artwork and visuals, easy to follow scientific information, and self-check assessment opportunities, and was recognized as one of “Our Favorite Books of 2020” by Pressbooks. In the first year of use, the OER has been estimated to have saved Lane Community College students $136,000. In addition, 11 additional colleges and universities have adopted the OER for use in their nutrition classes. This team has gone above and beyond in completing this multi-year project and they all nominated each other as OER champions!
Glencora Borradaille, Oregon State University Outstanding Publication Glencora’s book Defend Dissent is an introduction to cryptography paired with the social impacts of surveillance and the protective potential of encryption, with a focus on US social movements. Each chapter includes a story that brings social context to the material—from surveillance used against contemporary US protests to the African National Congress’s use of partially manual encryption in fighting apartheid in South Africa in the 80s. Glencora believes that communication should be private and secure by default and worries about corporate and state threats to first-amendment protected activities. They are on the advisory board of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, where they helped initiate and continue to build a Digital Security program to support activists.
Jennifer Rueda, Kit Emens-Hesslink, & Susan Caisse, Clackamas Community College Outstanding Publication Jennifer, Kit, and Susan created a grammar textbook for upper-beginning level ESOL students. The books reflects best practices, is professional in appearance, and includes a teacher’s manual. It also reflects application of a DEI framework. Most textbooks for students at this level are far too extensive and expensive. This engaging book fills a need while keeping costs low for students so that access to the textbook will not be a barrier to student success.
Kristi Murphey, Linn-Benton Community College Outstanding Publication Kristi is one of the longest-serving members of the Textbook Affordability Steering Committee at LBCC and a skilled OER creator. She adopted Openstax Statistics for HE 220 in LBCC’s first round of grants and went on to create original materials for both HE 220 and HE 100. LBCC’s OER Librarian Michaela Willi Hooper writes: “What particularly impresses me about Kristi’s OER process is that she keeps the resources she creates simple and lean so they’re sustainable and responsive to her fast-moving discipline of Health and Human Performance. She finds innovative ways to engage students using everything from social media to government websites. Kristi is happy to share her skill set with others, and has presented about OER to colleagues at LBCC. Kristi’s many hours of service on the Textbook Affordability Steering Committee have been indispensable in moving our campus initiative forward.”
Marit Bovbjerg, Oregon State University Outstanding Publication Marit’s Foundations of Epidemiology comes at critical time, given the current need for public health workers to understand the basics of the discipline. Her work is already being used all over the world (according to Google analytics). Foundations of Epidemiology is an open access, introductory epidemiology text intended for students and practitioners in public or allied health fields. Marit took great care to make this an accessible work. Her language is at an appropriate level and she uses the Pressbooks glossary feature very effectively to help explain new terms. She uses local examples that students can relate to, such as the OSU population, to demonstrate complex issues. Many of the concepts are illustrated with examples drawn from contemporary and historical public health cases. It is currently the only text of its kind.
Mindy Bean, Linn-Benton Community College Outstanding Publication Mindy has been instrumental in creating and adopting OER materials in four courses at Linn-Benton Community College, including two high-enrollment introduction to business courses. She is an advocate for OER, library-licensed materials, experience-based learning, and student-centered practices in her department and across campus. Mindy’s work has connected students to important resources and saved them tens of thousands of dollars.
Karen Bjork, Portland State University Publication Leadership Karen, a two-time champion, is the indefatigable Head of Digital Initiatives and Scholarly Publishing at Portland State University’s Millar Library. Her energies have initiated numerous OER publications across the disciplines. She manages services, staff, communications, and technical infrastructure for the scholarly publishing program in the library, helping to publish openly accessible journals, open textbooks, conference proceedings, and dynamic scholarly projects. While developing strategies for promoting growth and sustainability of PDXScholar, she provides awareness, advocacy and education for both internal and external groups about scholarly communication issues  including open access, University Open Access policy, author rights, research impact, copyright, fair use, data management, and library publishing.
Mark Lane, Oregon State University Publication Leadership Mark is an OER champion who demonstrates how excellence in OER publication supports instructors and students in their social justice work. Rebecca Olson, Associate Professor of English, writes: “In 2018 I oversaw the production of a student-edited OER, Romeo and Juliet, published by Open Oregon State. In 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the wake of the protests following the murder of George Floyd, we decided to revise the edition with the specific goal of improving access. A new student editorial team reconsidered aspects of our formatting that rendered the edition unusable for some people with disabilities and attended to racist, misogynist, classist, and ableist passages in the text. I was lucky to connect with Production Manager Mark Lane, who supported our work at every critical junction. From setting up work environments where the students and I could try different formats to troubleshooting a glossary fiasco to ensuring that our OER featured a user-friendly table of contents, he helped us make the OER accessible in ways that that we had not even considered. Mark was a total professional: understanding, swift to reply and solve problems, and always encouraging of innovation.”
Valentina Castellanos Ramirez, Grace, Katie Dover, & Madeline Fischer, Portland Community College Student Leadership The student champions on the Eco Social Justice committee, a subcommittee of PCC’s student government, decided to spend over $26,000 of student money on grants for faculty to adopt, adapt and create open resources for their classes. Grace, Valentina, Katie, and Madeline prioritized textbook affordability work for the ESJ grants this year, in order to improve the educational experience for their fellow students. They collaboratively designed an application and reviewed applicants, with a special eye toward proposals that prioritized making course materials more socially just and relevant. They funded 13 faculty projects to incorporate or improve open resources and practices in PCC classes. Their work this year will have a lasting impact on PCC students next year and beyond.
Isaiah Boyd, Maya Ward, & Nick Keough, University of Oregon Student Leadership The University of Oregon recognizes three OER champions in its current student government.

Isaiah, President of ASUO, is a tireless advocate for OER and student affordability, which most recently resulted in ASUO reallocating the student I-fee that was previously used to fund athletics tickets to be used for basic needs programs, including a textbook subsidy program. Isaiah finds ways to bring student affordability into the conversations he has at all levels – including our Board of Trustees and even on an interview on OPB’s Think Out Loud.

Maya has been a critical member of UO’s Textbook Affordability Task Force, adding an important student perspective. Maya is also leading a brand new, student-funded textbook subsidy and lending program beginning this Fall, where she and ASUO will help provide necessary financial assistance to students struggling with the high cost of textbooks. This program will provide close to $300,000 of textbook assistance to students over the next academic year.

Nick has been an awesome student advocate for OER and textbook affordability issues as ASLCC President at Lane Community College, and at UO. He was instrumental in gaining transparency from LCC’s administration during the outsourcing of the college’s bookstore in 2019. Nick’s activism through ASUO resulted in the Board of Trustees asking for an OER presentation to raise awareness and buy-in at the very highest levels.

Rayne Vieger, UO OER Librarian, writes: “Thank you Isaiah, Maya, and Nick for being OER and textbook affordability Champions at the UO!”


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  1. Pingback: Statewide OER Symposium Materials – openoregon.org

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