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Open Education Consortium Announces 2015 Winners of INDIVIDUAL Awards for Open Education Excellence

April 01, 2015 – The Open Education Consortium has announced the 2015 winners of Individual Awards for Open Education Awards for Excellence.

Peter Smith, Founding President of the Open College at Kaplan University (OC@KU) and Senior Vice President of Academic Strategy for Kaplan Higher Education Group, is the recipient of one of the two Leadership Awards for Open Education Excellence given this year. With 40+ years of experience as a higher education innovator and noteworthy advocate for higher education, Dr. Peter Smith was instrumental in the development and launch of Open College at Kaplan University (OC@KU). OC@KU is a unique initiative that merges education technology and customized service to help learners meet their academic and professional goals. By offering access to open courses, credit assessments, and faculty mentors, OC@KU provides resources to help learners reduce the cost and time to earn a degree.

Quill West is Open Education Project Manager at Pierce College District and is the second recipient of the Leadership Award for her outstanding work as an inspirational leader, motivating faculty, students, and institutions to increase adoption of openly licensed resources on a global scale. Quill builds projects where success is measured not only in dollars saved, but also in student achievement, faculty satisfaction, and increased advocacy.

Anne Marenco, Professor of Sociology at College of the Canyons, is the first of two recipients of an Educator Award this year. She has worked tirelessly to adapt and author open textbooks that are used by 1200 students per year at her institution. In addition, she has involved and inspired a dozen other faculty members to produce and adopt open textbooks that are used at other institutions. She has done this work without the benefit of financial support or research assistants. She is pleased that her students have access to high-quality learning materials.

Li-chaun Ou, Professor of Chinese Literature at the National Taiwan University, is the second recipient of an Educator Award for her dedication to open education. Prof. Ou has been involved with the open movement since 2012. She has made over 107 course videos and 70 handouts under the license of Creative Commons for NTU OCW. Prof. Ou’s course materials are mainly based on her academic studies on Redology. She is both an excellent teacher and a prolific scholar. Her book “A Round Character Study of the Dream of the Red Chamber” was published in 2006, which received NTU Scholarly Book Award and Outstanding Book Award. In 2007, Prof. Ou further published “A Grand View of the Red Chamber: General Introduction”. These two books not only enrich her instructions, but also strengthen the materials for her OCW courses.

About the Award Recipients

Peter P. Smith’s career in and out of higher education has not followed the straight and narrow. Amid forays into politics (as a member of Congress and Lieutenant Governor of Vermont) and international affairs (Assistant Director General of UNESCO), Smith has been a higher education innovator, helping to found the statewide Community College of Vermont in 1970 and serving as founding president of California State University’s Monterey Bay campus from 1995 to 2005. In these jobs and in his current one as the President of Open College at Kaplan University (OC@KU), Smith has pushed existing colleges and universities to better serve the adults and other students who have been least well-served by the rigid structure of traditional higher education.

OC@KU is the culmination of Smith’s lifetime vision of putting learners in control of their learning. This innovative endeavor integrates technology with personalized service to help learners meet their career, academic, and personal goals. Within a few months of launching OC@KU, site activity quickly reached over 1,200 learners. To date, over 3,000 unique visitors have accessed the courses.

In addition to providing open course access to thousands of learners, OC@KU also offers a self-paced, open degree program: The Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies (BSPR). With the BSPR, students with transfer credit, open course credit, and/or experiential learning credit can use open resources from within and outside of Kaplan University to design their own undergraduate degree programs. Under the guidance of dedicated advisors, the degree program is focused on professional knowledge and skills, problem solving, and strategic planning and culminates in a capstone class with a portfolio project.

Smith’s vision has not only resulted in providing access to thousands of learners to open courses but also providing a customized pathway by which college-level learning from open courses can be recognized in a degree program.

Quill West built the OER project at Tacoma Community College. She designed and led a project that has saved students over one million dollars! The TCC OER project has grown to influence other colleges nationwide due to Quill inspiring the teachers to share their course materials. Developing a partnership with Lumen’s Kaleidoscope Project has led to national adoption of high enrollment courses, including English 101, Public Speaking, and U.S. Government.

As a member of the Open Course Library project, the Washington state I-DEA Grant, and the national Kaleidoscope Project, Quill has assisted faculty in developing open materials including whole courses.

Now the Open Education Project Manager at Pierce College, Quill’s guidance at the military campuses is helping soldiers and their families afford returning to school. The instructors at Pierce College at Joint Base Lewis McChord are quickly moving towards a full degree with no textbook expense.

Anne Marenco is recognized for her achievements in expanding the adoption of open textbooks at her institution, College of the Canyons, as well as at other institutions.

For a number of years, Professor Marenco had heard about OER. She was increasingly frustrated at hearing from students that they could not afford to purchase a commercial textbook for her Sociology courses. In 2009, Professor Marenco finally located an open textbook for Introduction to Sociology that was originally authored by Professors Ron Hammond and Phil Cheney or Utah Valley University. She worked together with a couple of part-time faculty members in Sociology to substantially re-write the textbook so that the reading level would be appropriate for their students and examples used in the text would be less specific to Utah and more applicable to a general reader. After receiving excellent feedback on the book from students in the first classes the book was used with, she enlisted more faculty members to locate and then edit an open textbook on the Sociology of Criminology. Later, Professor Marenco and her group of faculty members set about to author an open textbook on the Sociology of Gender.

At this time, twelve faculty members in Sociology at College of the Canyons use open textbooks; each year, up to 1200 students use an open textbook, saving $180,000. Many of the faculty whom Professor Marenco has involved in using open textbooks teach at other colleges as well, thereby expanding the benefits of OER. Finally, Professor Marenco has undertaken these projects without significant support–no grants, no stipends, and no assistants.

Li-chuan Ou is currently a professor at the National Taiwan University, Department of Chinese Literature. Her areas of expertise are Tang Dynasty Poetry and Dream of Red Mansions. She has been granted a series of academic honors and awards throughout her professional career recognizing her excellence in teaching and research. Among them:

− A National Science Council in 1999 and 2000 species of research awards

− Excellent teacher of the year at Providence University School and at National Taiwan University College

− The common good and the service courses Teacher Award at Taiwan University

− Outstanding Books Awardand Outstanding Teacher Award

The Open Education Consortium is excited to recognize the outstanding efforts these individuals have made to expand educational opportunity worldwide.

About the Open Education Awards for Excellence

The Open Education Awards for Excellence provide annual recognition to outstanding contributions in the Open Education Consortium community. These awards recognize distinctive open education sites, technological innovations, notable open courses, and exemplary leaders in Open Education worldwide. The awards are announced each year at the Open Education Global Conference.

About the Open Education Consortium

The Open Education Consortium is a worldwide community of hundreds of higher education institutions and associated organizations committed to advancing open education and its impact on global education. We envision a world where everyone, everywhere has access to the education they need to build their futures. We seek to instill openness as a feature of education around the world, allowing greatly expanded access to education while providing a shared body of knowledge upon which innovative and effective approaches to today’s social problems can be built. The Open Education Consortium realizes change by leveraging its sources of expert opinion, its global network and its position as the principal voice of open education.

Activities of the Open Education Consortium are supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, member dues, and contributions from sustaining members including: African Virtual University, Fundação Getulio Vargas – FGV Online, Japan OCW Consortium, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Korea OCW Consortium, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NetEase (Hangzhou) Network Co., Ltd, Open University Netherlands, Taiwan OpenCourseWare Consortium, Tecnológico de Monterrey, TU Delft, Tufts University, UNIVERSIA, Universidad Politécnica Madrid, University of California, Irvine, University of Michigan.

Posted by: Marcela Morales. Community Relations Manager & OE Awards Committee Chair marcela@oeconsortium.org