New content is focus in second year of Miller OER grants

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Go to Iowa State's OER website to learn more about open educational resources. Interested in incorporating OER in your classroom? Check out the OER starter kit.

In its second year, the Miller Open Education Mini-Grants program shifted even more of its focus to supporting faculty who are crafting original open educational resources (OER).

Grants of up to $5,000 are available to assist Iowa State instructors in using, constructing, refining or distributing openly licensed course content, customizable materials that can be specifically tailored for particular courses and teaching methods. OER, which can range from traditional textbooks to interactive modules, is free for students -- and other faculty.

Last year's inaugural round of grants in many cases spurred production of new OER, but some were awarded transitioning a course to an off-the-shelf OER. The 10 projects funded in 2019-20 are all producing new material in some way. 

"There's a lot more creation this year. We've got more people making something new to fill a need," said open access and scholarly communications librarian Abbey Elder, who coordinates the grant program.

Though work is underway in many cases, most of the projects will debut in the classroom in the spring, Elder said. The projects must be complete and used in a course by the end of June. Faculty who receive a grant will be featured in the trailblazers section of the university's OER website.

In a new requirement this year, text-based projects must be published through the ISU Digital Press, the library's publishing service. The ISU Digital Press uses Pressbooks for OER, a platform that simplifies publishing "nice-looking" e-books that students can download in a variety of formats, Elder said.

"It's a pretty easy-to-use resource," she said.

Here are the 10 minigrant winners:

Karri Haen Whitmer, genetics, development and cell biology

Award: $5,000
Course: BIOL 256L, Fundamentals of Human Physiology Laboratory
Summary: For the past five years, Haen Whitmer has developed content for her laboratory courses to cover topics textbooks didn't include. She will combine those materials with existing OER to develop a new, all-inclusive lab text. 
Approximate students impacted per semester: 400

Diana Lang, human development and family studies

Award: $5,000
Course: HD FS 249, Parenting and Family Diversity Issues
Summary: Lang is combining new videos, images and texts with existing OER material to create an interactive textbook. Because this material will be openly licensed and freely available online, it can be updated regularly and used in other colleges around the U.S.
Approximate students impacted per semester: 120

Monica Lamm and Laura Jarboe, chemical and biological engineering

Award: $4,963
Course: CH E 358, Separations
Summary: Having compiled extensive course notes and resources as textbook supplements, Lamm and Jarboe will adapt the materials into an open handbook on separations for chemical engineering students. The handbook will emphasize how practitioners work in the field.
Approximate students impacted per semester: 100

Amanda Anderson, kinesiology

Award: $4,360
Courses: KIN 258, Principles of Physical Fitness and Conditioning
Summary: Anderson is creating an interactive anatomy OER with embedded videos on resistance training to provide examples of concepts covered in her course. This will help meet an important learning outcome and give students a solid foundation for future kinesiology courses.
Approximate students impacted per semester: 180

Ji Yeong I, School of Education

Award: $3,360
Courses: EDUC 502, Teaching Mathematics to English Language Learners; EDUC 593G, Workshops: Mathematic Education
Summary: I will build open-access readings for each module in her course, filling the need for all-inclusive, relevant content. She hopes to eventually replace the textbook she uses with the material she is developing.
Approximate students impacted per semester: 30

Kelly Reddy-Best, apparel, events and hospitality management

Award: $3,000
Course: A M D 165, Dress, Appearance and Diversity in Society
Summary: Unable to find a textbook that appropriately covers the full context of her course, Reddy-Best is making her own resources to fill that niche. In addition to finding, adapting and combining existing OER, she is creating team-based learning exercises and videos for each module.
Approximate students impacted per semester: 150

Julie Dickerson and Andrew Bolstad, electrical and computer engineering

Award: $2,500
Course: E E 224, Signals and Systems I
Summary: In this required course for electrical engineers, Dickerson and Bolstad are designing content to replace software-based laboratory assignments with more engaging hands-on exercises. The new lab material will incorporate CyDAQ, a data acquisition device designed by former ISU students as a senior design project.
Approximate students impacted per semester: 100

John Haughery, agricultural and biosystems engineering

Award: $2,499
Course: TSM 363, Electrical Power Systems and Electronics for Agriculture and Industry
Summary: Haughery, the program's only two-time recipient, is reorganizing, formatting and publishing an adapted version of the OER textbook he adopted with last year's grant. The adaptation will fit seamlessly into his course structure, including only the chapters covered. A print option will be available.
Approximate students impacted per semester: 120

Nicole Tramp, food science and human nutrition

Award: $2,025
Course: FS HN 554, 555 and 556, Dietetics Internship I, II and III
Summary: Tramp is creating a case study dietetics students can access in Canvas that will explore options for the management of Type 2 diabetes. This will add an interactive learning experience that can be adopted, updated or remixed by instructors at other universities.
Approximate students impacted per semester: 70

Julie Irish, interior design

Award: $1,000
Course: ARTID 569A, Advanced Studies in Interior Design: Design Theory
Summary: Irish is identifying open-source readings and creating new open lecture materials, which can be adopted in other interior design courses around the U.S.
Approximate students impacted per semester: 16

The OER minigrant program is sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), University Library, the office of the senior vice president and provost and the Computation Advisory Committee. The grants are inspired by the Miller Faculty Fellowship Program, a CELT program funded by the Miller Endowment Trust. The trust was created by the estate of F. Wendell Miller, an attorney and farm manager who died in 1995 and left the bulk of his estate to Iowa State and the University of Iowa.

Grants will be offered again in the spring for fiscal year 2021, Elder said.