On Friday I reported about SB2328, a bill that passed (with amendments) the Hawai’i Senate Committee on Higher Education and would have mandated open educational resources (OER) for all courses at all 10 University of Hawai’i campuses. And if there were no adequate OER materials for a course? “. . . the faculty member or lecturer responsible with providing instruction for the course shall create the instructional materials and offer those materials free of charge to students through open educational resources.”
This bill was a disaster in the making. Not only would it have been unworkable in terms of funding and intellectual property ownership, it would also have set back the OER movement by associating OER with unfunded faculty mandates and reduction of academic freedom. All this from good intentions but apparently shallow understanding.
As mentioned in an update to Friday’s posts, the amendments that resulted from committee hearings removed the mandates. We now have the amended language, and it is a completely different bill.
The purpose of this Act is to:
(1) Establish the University of Hawai‘i open educational resources task force to conduct a comprehensive analysis and evaluation on all general education courses and high attendance courses taught at the University of Hawai‘i system to identify open educational resources for those courses;
(2) Establish and appropriate funds for an open educational resources pilot project grant program to incentivize faculty that adopt, develop, and implement open educational resources; and
(3) Require the University of Hawai‘i open educational resources task force to report its findings and recommendation initiatives for supporting and expanding the use of open educational resources at the University of Hawai‘i to the Legislature prior to the Regular Session of 2019.
During the hearings there were several dozen testimonies shared, and all but two opposed the bill (and one of those two changed positions to oppose). Leading the opposition was the University of Hawai’i Professional Assembly, the local faculty union.
In short, the bill amendments removed mandates, creates a task force charged with a one-year evaluation of high-enrollment and general ed courses, and creates a $50,000 grant fund to incentivize faculty adoption.
It is not clear whether the bill will make it through remaining hurdles to become state law, but if it does, we will have a fairly significant move in the state dealing with the costs of curricular materials and OER adoption.
Billy Meinke, OER Technologist and UH Manoa and a key player within the system (let’s call him Kane OER), was unaware of SB2328 before it came out. This gets to the heart of the problem – the original bill appears to have been written without any input from the people already working on OER adoption within the University of Hawai’i.
I still have a problem with the preamble of the bill that uses the misleading claim that the “average cost for books and supplies for the same academic year at public colleges averaged $1,250.” Students actually pay about half this amount, and this false setup will lead to erroneous estimates of how much any such bill could save for its students. But for now, crisis averted.