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On Campus: North Dakota University System to continue support for open textbook initiative

The North Dakota University System will continue to support an open textbook initiative with the hopes of saving students money.

Tanya Spilovoy, NDUS director of distance education and state authorization, said she recently acquired approval from State Board of Higher Education Chancellor Mark Hagerott to form an open educational resource (OER) steering committee made up of members from both inside and outside higher education.

"The next step is that institutions will be able to apply for appropriated dollars to start their own initiatives," Spilovoy said.

A Babson Survey Research Group report released in October shows faculty at the eleven NDUS colleges and universities are more aware of open educational resources than their national counterparts.

The study found surveyed faculty knew about the concept of using OERs—free educational materials for students—though the definition of them varied and judging quality was difficult.

Spilovoy said hurdles to adopting OERs are similar nationwide, so she held a well-attended workshop for faculty in early October and has connected faculty to the University of Minnesota's open textbook library.

"It's difficult to find materials," she said. "It's time-consuming, and what I'm trying to do is break down those barriers by providing the open textbook network, giving workshops and pointing them to the open textbook library."

At UND, textbooks cost students an average of $1,000 annually, according to data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Moving forward, Spilovoy said schools will be able to apply for funds from a $110,000 pool of money for open textbook initiatives appropriated by the North Dakota Legislature during its last session.

"It's not a lot of money, but my hope is to see interest in open educational resources and try to be responsible and use it wisely," she said.

Most of all, she wants schools and faculty to come up with their own adoption plans and do what's best to meet their individual needs. The survey found faculty in North Dakota are more autonomous when it comes to the selection of course materials than their peers elsewhere in the country.

"That's a positive because faculty are the keepers of curriculum in North Dakota," Spilovoy said. "They get to make the decisions on the resources they use so it's promising when we present them with options, like free textbooks, they can choose them. Nothing is stopping them."

Other news

• India Night will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the UND Memorial Union Ballroom. The event is hosted by the Student Association of India and will feature music, dancing and food.

• The UND Society of Women Engineers is hosting a mother-daughter fun day with chemical engineering faculty at 10 a.m. Saturday in Harrington Hall. Events will include a chemistry demonstration and hands-on learning project where girls will create water-bottle lava lamps. The event costs $15.

• The UND Indian Studies Association will host its annual American Indian Film Festival in celebration of Native American Heritage Month. All films will be shown 5-7 p.m. in the Memorial Union Lecture Bowl. "Holy Man" will be shown Thursday, "Up Heartbreak Hill" will be shown Nov. 12 and "Reel Injun" will be shown Nov. 19.

• The University of Minnesota-Crookston will host Kwanggaeto Samulnori, a Korean percussion ensemble featuring a breakdancer, at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 in the Kiehle Auditorium. Admission to the program is $10 for adults and free for children, high school and UMC students. A Korean dinner will be served 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the Brown dining room for a cost of $8 per person. Visit goo.gl/n5wi4a for more information.

• The science, technology, engineering and math education for North Dakota students in grades K-12 has received $66,479 in federal funding, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. These federal funds will be used to support the development of STEM education through a program at UND.

• Anton Treuer, a professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University, will share information on Native American culture next week at Mayville State University. Treuer will lead a session titled "Native Americans in North Dakota: A Path through History" 5-8:30 p.m. Monday at the Campus Center's Luckasen Room. The session is open to Mayville State employees, students and area teachers. To register, email teachercenter@mayvillestate.edu. A roundtable will be held 9-10 a.m. Tuesday at the Byrnes-Quanbeck Library Quiet Room. For more information, contact Aubrey Madler at aubrey.madler@mayvillestate.edu or (701) 788-4814.

More info: To see more regional higher education news, visit the websites of UNDUniversity of Minnesota-CrookstonNorthland Community and Technical CollegeMayville State University and Lake Region State College.

Anna Burleson

Anna Burleson is the higher education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Mass Communication program and is originally from Watertown, S.D. Contact her with story ideas or tips by phone, email or Twitter, all of which are listed below. Examples of her work can be accessed here.

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