Meet the OER Ambassadors

Meet TDL’s OER Ambassadors

TDL’s OER Ambassadors have committed to serve for a minimum of two years by developing a Community of Practice around OER and becoming a source of expertise for all consortium members.

Continue reading to get to know more about our OER Ambassadors.

Meet Lisa

Lisa Louis is the Head, Research & Learning, at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Lisa Louis, Head, Research & Learning, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Where do you work?
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

What do you do there?
Head, Research & Learning, Bell Library

Where did you go to school?
Louisiana State University for undergrad, University of North Texas for grad school

Where is your hometown?
Irving, Texas (where the REAL Cowboy Stadium used to be located)

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
I’m a classical vocalist.

Tell me how you first got involved with OER / Open Education / Open Access?
I had been Head of Reference and also Instruction Coordinator; we hired a new Instruction Coordinator and so my job was changing. My Dean and I had a conversation about how my focus might shift and she said that she wanted to get the library involved in OER. Would I like to head up that effort? And that’s how I got involved.

What was your first impression of OER / Open Education / Open Access?
My first impression was excitement. This is an idea that is so relevant to our academic reality. TAMU-CC is an institution that serves many disadvantaged and first-generation students. And even for students from more privileged backgrounds, textbook costs have risen way beyond what they should have to pay.

What has surprised you most about working with OER / Open Education / Open Access?
The biggest revelation to me was the idea that open educational resources could not only save students money but could help faculty too! Open educational practices can help faculty break out of the textbook mold and add diverse perspectives, local relevance and hot-off-the-press updates to their class materials by editing open textbooks. They can also come up with creative activities that engage students with their own learning materials. They can kill the “disposable assignment” and instead collaborate with their students to create content that lives on after the class is over and makes a  contribution to knowledge. That’s very exciting to me.

Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to work in Open Education.
I have been and continue to be inspired by David Wiley. He is an articulate and passionate advocate for open education, and a good person.

The interest in OER seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?
Financial pressures and wanting to help students stay in school and graduate are a big part of it. But it’s also about bringing into being a thing that was made possible by the invention of the Internet and yet years later is still struggling to be realized. There are powerful forces arrayed against open access and open education, but the need for a more equitable solution to sharing knowledge, whether it’s in an article in a scholarly journal or a textbook, is clear.

 What do you think will change about OER / Open Education in five years?
I am not comfortable making predictions, but I hope there will be less skepticism, suspicion and automatic negative reactions to OER in five years. I hope we have more adoptions of OER, and more faculty creating OER. I would love to see students get involved as well. There are also some academic disciplines that are not served as well as others when it comes to available OER. Nursing stands out in my mind. It would be great to have new OER created that fill those gaps.

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Meet Ashley

Ashley Morrison is the Tocker Open Education Librarian at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Ashley with Leo, her elderly dog

 Where do you work?
University of Texas at Austin 

What do you do there?
As of August, I’m the Tocker Open Education Librarian. 

Where did you go to school?
I received both my BA in English and my MSIS at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Where is your hometown?
Fort Worth, TX

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
My hobbies are running (slowly) and eating. On a good day, they just cancel each other out.

Tell me how you first got involved with OER / Open Education / Open Access?
In a way, I was just in the right place at the right time! As a graduate student at UT Austin, I worked in the Libraries and joined a discussion group for staff interested in scholarly communications topics (of which I knew nothing about at the time). It was in that group that the concept of OER was introduced to me, and I heard Colleen Lyon, Head of Scholarly Communications and my current supervisor, mention that she’d love to talk with instructors who’d adopted OER — if only she had the time. From there, my capstone project proposal was born, and I had the opportunity to spend a semester interviewing instructors around campus about why and how they implemented OER in their courses, translating what I heard into a set of recommendations for UT Libraries. Three years later, and I’m thrilled to be back at UT as the Tocker Open Education Librarian.

What was your first impression of OER / Open Education / Open Access?
Since I first heard about OER as a graduate student, I remember feeling extra annoyed by the amount I’d spent on textbooks in so many years of school! But really, I was just very excited to learn that this was a movement with growing momentum and that libraries had an opportunity to play such an important role in creating awareness and driving adoption of open course materials. As a first generation college student, my personal and professional interests intersect at student success and student affordability, and open education sits right there. It opened up a potential career path for me that I had no idea existed when I set out to become a librarian. 

What has surprised you most about working with OER / Open Education / Open Access?
Surprised might be the wrong word, but I’m delighted by the engaged and generous community that exists for those working in the space. There are so many of us working toward common goals and learning together, and everyone is sharing best practices, experiences, challenges, and resources. To me, it seems that everyone is aware that they’re part of an effort much larger than our individual roles or institutions, and that’s really energizing.

What do you wish other people knew about librarians’ roles in OER / Open Education / Open Access?
My hope is that through continued outreach, instructors become aware that librarians can help them identify and evaluate course materials. Right now, instructor awareness of that service is quite low, and we’re missing opportunities not just to introduce OER and open access materials, but to integrate materials that libraries have other low or no-cost ways to provide to students through our vast licensed collections. I think about student affordability holistically, and while OER is the gold standard, I’d like to not let perfect be the enemy of good for students.

The interest in OER seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?
I think there are a number of factors, but we’re certainly in a timely moment to have conversations about OER. Many instructors rapidly switched their courses from in-person to digital learning as campuses closed in response to COVID-19 this year. They are evaluating more than their course materials — they’re reconsidering their course structures, assignments, exams, and pedagogical approaches in an online (or at least partially online) classroom.

Apart from the direct impact of COVID-19 on learning environments, there seems to be growing awareness of the increasing financial burdens placed on students, from tuition to housing to textbooks. Several surveys and studies have been shared in the last few years demonstrating how many of our students experience housing or food insecurity on a regular basis. Textbooks and course materials are a small fraction of the cost of being a student for most, but they’re also the costs that can be directly influenced by departments and instructors with comparatively smaller efforts.

And of course, I think the growing interest is in no small part due to the longtime efforts of colleagues to drive awareness and demonstrate the value of making the shift to OER. Very dedicated and talented people have been working for change for more than two decades, and ultimately thanks is due to them.

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Meet Laura

Laura Heinz is a Librarian at Texas Tech University.

Laura Heinz, Texas Tech University

 Where do you work?
Texas Tech University

What do you do there?
Librarian

Where did you go to school?
Texas Tech University – Bachelor of General Studies; University of North Texas – Masters of Library Sciences

Where is your hometown?
Lubbock, Texas

What was your first impression of OER / Open Education / Open Access?
What’s not to like?!  Faculty can select quality textbooks created by other faculty or create custom content for their courses and, at the same time,  directly impact the cost of education for their students.  

What do you find most challenging about working with OER / Open Education / Open Access?
Faculty resistance to using open textbooks. 

What would you tell a faculty member who is thinking about moving to open education?
Do it – I can help! 

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Meet Rusty

Rusty Kimball is the Geosciences Librarian and leader of  Open Access for Student Educational Success at Texas A&M University.

Rusty Kimball, Texas A&M University

Where do you work?
Texas A&M University Libraries

What do you do there?
I am the Geosciences Librarian and leader of OASES (Open Access for Student Educational Success)

Where did you go to school?
Geology Undergrad and Grad degrees at University of Texas at Arlington, MLIS at University of North Texas

Where is your hometown?
Arlington, Texas

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
I am a former drummer and harpist, and currently I am a surround music enthusiast.

What has surprised you most about working with OER / Open Education / Open Access?
I didn’t anticipate that my role would include managing funds, nor the amount of enthusiasm I get to encounter from instructors from time to time.

What do you find most challenging about working with OER / Open Education / Open Access?
Finding time for OER work and my subject librarian responsibilities.

The interest in OER seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?
I believe that instructors, students, and librarians are feeling the stranglehold of commercial publishers on textbooks, journals, and books.  This, combined with the creative freedom to have texts that meet the creative goals of instructors.

What would you tell a faculty member who is thinking about moving to open education?
Go for it, lead by example and free yourself and your students.

What do you think will change about OER / Open Education in five years?
More upper level OA textbooks will be available, more free and inexpensive platforms will be available for the creation and hosting of OERs.

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Meet Amanda

Amanda Zerangue is the Manager of Digital Services and Scholarly Communication Librarian at Texas Woman’s University.

Amanda Zerangue, MLS, JD, Texas Woman’s University

Where do you work?
Texas Woman’s University

What do you do there?
Manager of Digital Services and Scholarly Communication Librarian

Where did you go to school?
Undergrad: Amherst College
Law: SMU Dedman School of Law
Grad: UNT College of Information 

Where is your hometown?
Dallas, TX

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
I practiced law for almost a decade before transitioning to a stay-at-home parent, and then into librarianship. I’ve loved every part of the journey.

What was your first impression of OER / Open Education / Open Access?
Free textbooks! I approached OER from a student perspective– and as one who hasn’t been in an undergrad course in over 20 years. It wasn’t until really working with faculty that I understood all of the work and ancillaries needed for an OER/Open Education course redesign.

Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with OER / Open Education / Open Access?
Inspiring, thoughtful, persistent, and altruistic faculty at TWU who are social justice warriors dedicated to helping their students.

Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to work in Open Education.
My dean, Suzanne Sellers, is a huge advocate for OER. Her advocacy extends to supporting OER adoption/development at TWU financially in the Library’s budget, and with her unwavering support for all OER projects and initiatives at TWU. Suzanne’s support positively influenced my decision and ability to work in Open Education.

The interest in OER seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?
I believe interest has grown quite suddenly on higher ed campuses in Texas (and this is reflected on my campus) because of the interest in OER by the Texas legislature and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). While grassroots initiatives in Texas are extremely powerful, having the support of your university admin for OER initiatives is priceless.

What would you tell a faculty member who is thinking about moving to open education?
We can help you and will support you in any way possible. Working together with the Center for Faculty Excellence and Teaching & Learning with Technology  to support faculty transitions to OER has broadened our ability to successfully aid in course redesigns and OER adoptions. Our goal is to support you in your efforts to help students.

What’s your personal philosophy on OER / Open Education / Open Access?
Why do I enjoy what I do? No day is the same, and the knowledge that what the library is doing to support OER directly and positively affects students. And, I am able to support instructors in ways that may be unusual for libraries– stipends, support for course redesigns, support for professional development, tenure and promotion letters of recommendation– all while building closer relationships with our largest stakeholders.

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Meet Taylor

Taylor Fairweather-Leitch is the Scholarly Communication Librarian at West Texas A&M University.

Taylor Fairweather-Leitch, West Texas A&M University

Where do you work?
West Texas A&M University

What do you do there?
I am the Scholarly Communications Librarian.

Where did you go to school?
West Texas A&M University, Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies | Texas Woman’s University, Master of Library Science

Where is your hometown?
Plainview, Texas

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
During the quarantine I developed an addiction to Dr. Pepper!

What was your first impression of OER / Open Education / Open Access?
My first impression or thought was, “I wish I had something like this while I was going to school!”

What do you wish other people knew about librarians’ roles in OER / Open Education / Open Access?
That we are here to help and that we are still learning too!

Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working with OER / Open Education / Open Access?
You talk about someone who goes above and beyond, willing to make things happen, and visibly passionate about making a difference in education – that’s what I have seen and met during my time of working/networking in regards to OER/Open Education/Open Access. 

What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about OER / Open Education / Open Access?
The positive impact and potential that OER/Open Education/Open Access brings is a game changer in higher education.

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Meet DeeAnn

DeeAnn Ivie is the OER Coordinator at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

DeeAnn Ivie, OER Coordinator at UTSA Libraries with her research assistant Roxie

Where do you work?
UTSA Libraries at UT San Antonio

What do you do there?
OER Coordinator & Social Sciences Librarian

Where did you go to school?
University of North Texas – Master’s

Where is your hometown?
Midland, TX

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?
I’m an avid cyclist. I also have two Boston Terriers and two Basenjis!

Tell me how you first got involved with OER / Open Education / Open Access?
UTSA Libraries began exploring OER way back in 2015, and the library offered and awarded its first round of Adopt a Free Textbook grants back in Spring 2016. Since then, we have awarded over 80 grants to faculty adopting free or low cost learning materials with savings through our grant program alone at approximately $8 million.

What was your first impression of OER / Open Education / Open Access?
Starting an OER grant program from scratch was daunting initially. I had my work cut out for me with decision-making around policies, OER discovery, and more. It honestly felt like climbing Mt. Everest with a weighted backpack! The support from the OER community has been tremendous though. I think one of the aspects I love about librarianship in general is there is always a community of mentors at the ready at any moment. And having worked in OER for quite some time myself, I’d like to extend that same hand to any that have questions or feel like they are floundering. Please reach out to me!

What do you wish other people knew about librarians’ roles in OER / Open Education / Open Access?
Librarians working in OER are plugged into a larger OER ecosystem that spans nationally and even globally. We communicate through distribution lists on topics related to open pedagogy, open publishing, copyright, creative commons licensing, and more. Faculty working with OER librarians reap the benefits of these connections and communities

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Like and follow TDL’s OER Ambassadors!

Texas Digital Library

Twitter: @TXDigLibrary

Facebook: @texasdigitallibrary

Texas A&M University

Twitter: @tamulibraries

Facebook: @tamulibraries

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Twitter: @TAMUCCLibrary

Facebook: @TAMUCCLibrary

Texas Tech University

Twitter: @TexasTechLib

Facebook: @TexasTechLib

Texas Woman’s University

Twitter: @TWULibrary

Facebook: @twulibraries

University of Texas at Austin

Twitter: @utlibraries

Facebook: @utlibraries

University of Texas at San Antonio

Twitter: @utsalibraries

Facebook: @utsalibraries

West Texas A&M University

Twitter: @wtamulibrary

Facebook: @wtamulibrary

If you are interested in joining TDL’s OER communities, sign up for the  Texas OER Community for Higher Education Google Group, TDL’s OER listserv tdl-oer@utlists.utexas.edu, and TDL’s e-newsletter to stay up-to-date.

If you have any questions or suggestions please email Texas Digital Library at info@tdl.org.

Posted in Member Story, Open Educational Resources, scholarly communication

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