OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

outreach and engagement

OSU adaptation of free biology textbook may annually save students $100K

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is increasing its efforts to make college more affordable for its students, particularly through the use of free, open access, online textbooks and other essential course materials.

The initiatives should reduce student costs, enhance graduation rates, increase flexibility and allow the use of innovative and interactive online instruction techniques. 

The latest example was begun this month with an award of $30,000 by the state of Oregon for an open textbook project.

With this support, OSU faculty will collaborate with those from other state institutions to adapt a biology textbook that now will be freely accessible to OSU students and learners worldwide.

It is estimated the textbook, being adapted by Lindsay Biga and Devon Quick, instructors in Oregon State’s Department of Integrative Biology, will eliminate $100,000 in OSU student spending each year. It’s one of 16 open online textbooks already in use by OSU students or in production by OSU faculty.

“Oregon State is proactively developing and adapting open textbooks on students’ behalf because the cost savings are tremendous,” said Dianna Fisher, who coordinated the grant application effort as director of Open Oregon State.

“Research shows that textbook costs are a primary roadblock to degree completion. The more affordable we can make course materials, the more likely students are to graduate.”

The findings of a study released earlier this year by the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups show that America’s 5.2 million undergraduate students spend $3 billion of their financial aid on textbooks every year. In a 2013 study by the same group, 65 percent of students who responded to the survey said they decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive.

Oregon State’s attempts to stem the tide include open books that are being used or developed in a variety of subject areas, including business, plant science, oceanography, hydrology and computer science.

The grant for the biology textbook was awarded by the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission as part of its Open Educational Resources (OER) Grant Program. Open Oregon State, which works with faculty to create OER, will provide some matching funds.

At OSU, the textbook will be used for a biology course sequence on human anatomy and physiology. Biga, Quick and the other faculty partners will work to illustrate course concepts through interactive animations so students can visualize molecular, cellular and organismal processes and improve their content knowledge and retention.

The textbook to be adapted is “Anatomy and Physiology” by publisher OpenStax College. The modifications to the anatomy and physiology book will be completed by next summer in time for students to use it fall term 2017.

The project is expected to involve faculty from the University of Oregon, Western Oregon University, Portland State University, and Linn-Benton, Lane and Portland community colleges. 

“To me, open textbooks are about flexibility, access and interactivity,” Biga said. “Through this grant program, we have the opportunity to invest time and resources into customizing a resource to fit the schedule and curricular needs of our courses and provide free digital access to every enrolled student.”

Open textbooks are just one facet of OSU’s efforts to make learning opportunities freely accessible to learners. In May, more than 15,800 learners worldwide enrolled in a massive open online course, or MOOC, on permaculture. It was the first MOOC to be developed in-house at OSU, and will be offered again this fall. Due to its far-reaching success, instructor Andrew Millison plans to convert all course materials into an open textbook.

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Tyler Hansen, 520-312-1276

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Dianna Fisher, 541-737-8658

dianna.fisher@oregonstate.edu

Personalized learning systems to boost education of college students

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is beginning a new three-year, $515,000 initiative that will use interactive computer software to help improve the learning and knowledge retention of college students, especially to overcome the hurdles of highly complex mathematics and science.

The project is part of a major national program announced today by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. It will offer some alternatives to the traditional classroom concept of lecture, textbook, and “everyone moves along at the same speed” – an approach that in some courses is largely failing across the United States.

New technologies, interactive learning systems and short quizzes can help ensure a student understands the material being studied, as they move ahead. If they are confused or still struggling to learn the subject, the software system will help identify the problem, allow them to back up, go through things again, and provide additional support and knowledge until they do understand.

If a student just needs more basic information, they can get it. If they need a contextual explanation, that will be available as well.

“We’re facing a societal problem in a range of educational approaches, especially where class sizes are large and there’s less individual assistance,” said Julie Greenwood, associate dean for undergraduate studies at OSU and project manager of this new grant.

“For instance, almost all students have to take college algebra, and in some cases the failure rate can approach 50 percent. We believe that modern computer software can help address this problem, especially in math and the sciences, but also in liberal arts, social sciences and almost any field of study. We’re really optimistic this is going to be a success.”

Other collaborators in this program include Arizona State University, Colorado State University, Georgia State University, Northern Arizona University, Portland State University and the University of Mississippi.

OSU educators, Greenwood said, will help students work with existing software systems, find out which seems to work best or fit with the university’s culture and approach to learning, and which approaches are most appropriate for different disciplines.

University officials say this project, called “All Hands on Deck,” is an embrace of a new trend toward “adaptive,” or personalized learning approaches. They believe it can improve both the rate of first-year student retention and the university’s six-year graduation rate. It will initially be used in eight high-enrollment, general education courses, in such fields as mathematics, biology and psychology.

“This national grant will kick-start our efforts to move more aggressively toward personalized learning,” said David King, special assistant to the provost for learning innovation at OSU. “The initiative will also provide our faculty with insight and information on a learner-by-learner basis, and give them the opportunity to develop more individual and unique student-teacher relationships.”

OSU has been a national leader in new educational approaches and innovations, especially through its widely-recognized program of extended online education, or E-campus, and more recently through construction of a $65 million Learning Innovation Center to conduct research on new approaches to collaborative learning and education.

The most promising findings and practices emerging from this initiative will be shared among 200 public university members across the country, officials said, to better meet the general educational needs of today’s undergraduate college students.

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Julie Greenwood, 541-737-1190

Julie.greenwood@oregonstate.edu

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OSU online bachelor’s programs ranked top 10 nationally by U.S. News

CORVALLIS, Ore. - For the second straight year Oregon State University has been ranked in the top 10 nationally for online education by U.S. News & World Report, according to the 2016 rankings released today. 

Oregon State Ecampus, the university's online education division, is ranked seventh out of nearly 300 higher education institutions in the category of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. Among land grant universities on the list, OSU is third.

The full rankings are available online at http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education

“Oregon State’s land grant mission calls us to provide educational opportunities to people throughout Oregon and beyond, and Ecampus continues to excel in that endeavor,” OSU President Ed Ray said. “With more than 600 faculty partners and 10 academic colleges offering degrees online, this national honor is shared by all of OSU.”

Oregon State scored 93 points out of 100 in the rankings. Schools were assessed based on student engagement; faculty credentials and training; student services and technology; and peer reputation.

Ecampus delivers 20 bachelor’s programs online, including an undergraduate degree in business administration that launched last fall and already has admitted more than 130 students. An additional 23 OSU graduate degree and certificate programs are offered online.

In the 2014-15 academic year, nearly 17,500 Oregon State students took at least one Ecampus class. That number is expected to approach 20,000 this year, with OSU’s distance learners in all 50 states and more than 40 countries.

“Providing an Oregon State education online helps the university serve a wider range of students and gives our learners the ability to advance their careers without uprooting their lives,” said Ecampus Executive Director Lisa L. Templeton. “We view this ranking as validation of OSU’s tireless efforts to develop high-quality learning experiences for students everywhere.”

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Tyler Hansen, 520-312-1276

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Lisa L. Templeton, 541-737-1279

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OSU opens research unit for online teaching, learning

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is increasing its commitment to online education with a new research unit to focus on online teaching and learning at OSU and across the nation.

The OSU Extended Campus Research Unit is designed to create an accessible and inclusive online learning environment for these types of programs. Last month it received its first national grant and named eight OSU faculty members as its inaugural research fellows.

“At this stage in higher education, research about online education still has a lot of gaps,” said Extended Campus research director Katie Linder. “There are many questions remaining about different technologies and how they impact student learning. The goal of these new initiatives is to ignite some excitement among faculty in a more collaborative fashion and answer those questions.”

The research unit builds on Oregon State’s reputation as a national leader in online education. OSU Ecampus is ranked fifth nationally for online bachelor’s programs by U.S. News & World Report, and delivers more than 40 programs at a distance.

But Internet-based learning is still in its infancy compared to brick-and-mortar education, and Extended Campus executive director Lisa L. Templeton sees this as an opportunity for the university to perfect its online delivery methods.

“Oregon State is in a position to build a robust research pipeline that ultimately will improve the access and quality of online teaching and learning for our adult learners,” Templeton said. “It will allow the university to expand its reach even further and give students more opportunities to succeed.”

The research unit has received a grant from The National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancement. It’s a joint endeavor with other universities to investigate college students’ experience with video captions and determine the impact of captioning use on student learning in a college-level, fully online environment.

The Extended Campus Research Fellows Program funded five research projects that will be conducted by eight OSU faculty and staff members in 2016-17. They include:

  • Mary Nolan and Brenda Kellar (College of Liberal Arts): “Community in an Online Anthropology Program: Friend or Faux?”
  • Ping-Hung Hsieh, Xiaohui Chang and Andrew Olstad (College of Business): “Early Detection of Placement for Success in an Online Quantitative Class” 
  • Karen Thompson (College of Education): “Analyzing Learning in a Massive Open Online Course for Teachers”
  • Kathy Becker Blease (College of Liberal Arts): “Modules to Teach Scientific Literacy in Ecampus Introductory Psychology Classes” 
  • Stephanie Jenkins (College of Liberal Arts): “Evaluating the Impact of Engaged Philosophy in the Online Classroom” 
Media Contact: 

Tyler Hansen, 520-312-1276

Source: 

Katie Linder, 541-737-4269

OSU Libraries forms sister relationship with Nigerian university library

CORVALLIS, Ore. -  Oregon State University Libraries has forged a connection with a university library in Nigeria that will make it one of only a small group of existing “sister” university library relationships.

The collaboration will take place with the Federal University of Agriculture’s Nimbe Adedipe Library, in Abeokuta, Nigeria. It will establish an ongoing collaboration between librarians and staff at both universities, including exchange of library staff, joint research activities, participation in virtual seminars and academic meetings, and the exchange of library materials and other information.

“There are many benefits for OSU Libraries to seek out an international sister library relationship,” said OSU librarian Laurie Bridges, the coordinator of the OSU side of the project. “It helps raise awareness of issues and needs facing libraries internationally, it helps us share techniques and technologies to solve problems, and it increases the information, resources, and expertise between both libraries. It also increases the diversity of interaction between professionals.”

Bridges said the initiative also meets one of Oregon State’s strategic goals, which is promoting international education, research and engagement.

The Federal University of Agriculture is a public university in Nigeria consisting of nine colleges, with about 60 percent of majors focused on agriculture. It has about 19,000 students.

"Myself and my colleagues are most excited about networking with our new friends and colleagues from Oregon State University Libraries," said Fehintola Nike Onifade, a librarian from Nigeria. "This will help us to track trends and keep up with changes in librarianship and information science. In fact we are hoping that the relationship will lead us to best practices in library and information science service delivery."

OSU officials have signed a formal letter of understanding with FUA, formalizing the relationship between the two universities. A small group will be formed within the library to start working on outreach and exchange possibilities with FUA. 

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Laurie Bridges, 541-737-8821

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OSU’s statewide programs meet more needs with legislature’s support

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s three statewide public service programs received a boost from the Oregon legislature with $14 million additional funds to support up to 40 new positions and stimulate new research and extension projects across the state.

The new funding package increases the programs’ base budget to $118 million for the biennium. Of that increased funding, $6 million will go to OSU’s Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station; $4.5 million to the OSU Extension Service; and $3.5 million to OSU’s Oregon Forest Research Laboratory.

“Oregonians everywhere in the state will see benefits from these expanded programs with new OSU faculty focused on important issues in their communities,” said Scott Reed, director of the OSU Extension Service and vice-provost for Outreach and Engagement at OSU.

Examples include:

  •  Urban communities: more local programs focused on healthy living and nutrition education; expanded programs to support small-scale farming and community food systems; and increased research and development in fermentation sciences.
  •  Willamette Valley: increased research and extension on honey-bee and pollinator health; integrated pest management and slug control in commercial crops; specialty seed breeding; and timber harvest management.
  •  Coastal communities: increased research and extension in seafood and shellfish safety; near-shore fishery management; increased support for the dairy industry and commercial cheese-making; and new research focused on managing forest lands that are also habitat for marbled murrelet, a threatened seabird that nests in coastal forests.
  •  Eastern Oregon: increased research and extension focused on rangeland ecology to support sage-grouse conservation; juniper harvest and manufacturing; and water and nutrient management in rotation cropping.

Throughout Oregon, there will be increased opportunities for students to participate in research and outreach through experiential learning programs in real-world settings.

“We are deeply grateful for the legislature’s support, which allows us to address more needs in more communities across the state,” said Dan Arp, director of the Agricultural Experiment Station and dean of OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

The statewide programs will begin the hiring process this summer.

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Dan Arp, 541-737-2331, dan.arp@oregonstate.edu;

Scott Reed, 541-737-2713, scott.reed@oregonstate.edu;

Thomas Maness, 541-737-1585, thomas.maness@oregonstate.edu

OSU online bachelor’s programs ranked fifth nationally by U.S. News

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has bolstered its reputation as one of America’s best providers of online education, with its online bachelor’s degree programs today being ranked fifth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

OSU’s Ecampus online education program scored 95 points out of 100 in the rankings, which include nearly 300 higher education institutions. Schools were assessed based on student engagement; faculty credentials and training; peer reputation; and student services and technology. The full list is available online at http://bit.ly/1tKZqTz

“As Oregon State strives to improve the lives of citizens around the world, this recognition reinforces our commitment to expand and enrich learning experiences for all of our students,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “Ecampus and its faculty partners continually demonstrate that our university is a leader in the creation and use of the best new learning technologies.”

Ecampus delivers 19 undergraduate programs online, with new bachelor’s programs in business administration and Spanish launching this year. An additional 22 OSU programs are available at the graduate level.

Ecampus serves adult learners in all 50 states and more than 40 countries, and nearly 15,500 students took one or more Ecampus classes in 2013-14. The number of online learners at Oregon State has grown by 395 percent in the past five years, making it one of the fastest-growing segments of the university’s enrollment.

“Our mission is to provide learners with access to engaging, quality programs that help them finish their degrees and advance in their careers,” said Ecampus executive director Lisa L. Templeton. “Being highly ranked is particularly gratifying because the methodology weighs student engagement as the most important factor.”

Oregon State has been recognized as one of the country’s best online universities by a variety of publications in each of the past five years. Last September, OSU was named the No. 1 online college in Oregon by TheBestSchools.org.

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Tyler Hansen, 520-312-1276

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Lisa L. Templeton, 541-737-1279

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OSU Ecampus named best online education program in Oregon

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Ecampus distance education program at Oregon State University has been named the best online college in Oregon by TheBestSchools.org, an organization that provides in-depth ranking of degree programs, colleges and universities.

The rankings are based on academic excellence, faculty strength, online teaching methods, awards, the number of programs offered and other criteria, organization officials said.

In its evaluation, the organization cited the 35-plus online degrees delivered by Ecampus, “renowned” faculty members, access to student support systems, and Carnegie Foundation recognition of OSU as a university with very high research activity. The report is online at http://bit.ly/1xE4dfY

“OSU’s dedication to online education has brought us to regard it as the best online college in Oregon,” said Wayne Downs, managing editor of TheBestSchools.org.

Online education has been growing rapidly around the nation in recent years, including OSU’s Ecampus. Established universities such as OSU, the group noted, allow students to earn their degree online but also offer local residents the opportunity to use the library or visit a professor.

“What really distinguishes Oregon State Ecampus from other online universities is our focus on engaging, quality courses,” said Lisa L. Templeton, executive director of the program. “This strategic effort was recently recognized by the Online Learning Consortium for excellence in faculty development. We’re a leader in online education not just in Oregon, but also in the nation.”

In past years, OSU Ecampus has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report, Smart Choice 25 Best Online Colleges, and Nation’s Best Public Online Colleges.

Just recently, Professional and Continuing Education, within the Division of Outreach and Engagement, also received several honors from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. These included two UPCEA Marketing Awards. One was a bronze winner in the streaming/on demand content category; the other a bronze winner in a promotional print piece.

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Lisa L. Templeton, 541-737-1279

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OSU joining “badges” movement, new concept in education credentials

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Professional and Continuing Education, or PACE program at Oregon State University has begun an educational “badge” initiative, becoming part of an innovative national movement to expand the way learning accomplishments can be recognized.

These digital badges offer an additional method to recognize skills, education and abilities. As an “open credential,” they are detailed and personalized – and via computers can offer a more current and exact description of just what a person knows how to do.

The movement is conceptually similar to the “merit badges” that scouts have used for decades. But instead of a canoeing badge sewn onto a sash that verifies a person knows how to paddle a canoe, digital badges are computer icons that both recognize and can link to a full description of a person’s knowledge in a particular field – anything from robotics to welding to financial management.

At OSU, the first 300 badges have been issued to graduates of the popular “master gardener” online program. About 700 more badges are going to be presented to graduates of four other PACE programs in coming months.

“With employers relying more heavily on social media platforms like LinkedIn to make salary and career advancement decisions, we wanted to provide our students with a form of web-based credentialing that is secure, portable and meets contemporary workforce-related needs,” said Chris LaBelle, director of Professional and Continuing Education.

At OSU, LaBelle said, badges may be used to signify completion of a certificate program, an intensive workshop or the acquisition of a certain set of skills. They will be offered as a supplement to traditional degrees and certifications.

The badge movement is still in its infancy, but is already being embraced by a variety of institutions, from universities to private industry, government agencies and trade organizations. Open source computer software companies are among its advocates, and the system being used at OSU will work on multiple digital platforms.

In this initiative, OSU is working with the Oregon Badge Alliance, a non-profit organization working to set up a system of badges and micro-certifications in the state. Badges can provide detail on skills and achievements that aren’t available on traditional academic records and may include a range of work and studies far beyond a person’s academic degree. Creators of a badge clearly spell out the criteria for earning them, and they can recognize a specific accomplishment or sometimes continued growth in a general area of study.

“Because open badges can be collected from multiple sources, the possibilities are really endless,” said Wayne Skipper, founder of the Oregon Badge Alliance Wayne Skipper said. “In a rapidly evolving education landscape, the ability for students to quantify their own learning achievements is paramount. That requires more granular data than what we normally see on a transcript.”

PACE’s digital badge program has attracted the attention of other OSU colleges and departments as well, LaBelle said.

“Digital badges have the potential to become a university-wide program,” LaBelle said. “While non-degree students will receive the first wave of digital badges issued by our unit, I fully expect a demand for this form of micro-credentialing to spill over to OSU's student services and degree-based programs.” 

Digital badges are already a national movement.

One university, for instance, provides different badges for various milestones in robotics, and another provides badges for reaching benchmarks of learning in regular, credit-bearing college courses.

Once awarded, badges can also be linked to a wide range of information that would never be found on an academic transcript, such as workshops attended, awards won, projects completed, essays written or work samples.

Colleges like OSU, the University of California and Carnegie Mellon are being joined by many other institutions in the badge movement. The Smithsonian Institution is awarding badges, as are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Association of Manufacturers, Intel and Disney-Pixar.

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Chris LaBelle, 541-737-2807

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OSU to offer first free, massive course online

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University this fall will launch its first massive, open online course, or MOOC, partnering with Stanford University and the Oregon Department of Education to deliver a free, professional learning opportunity to potentially thousands of K-12 educators in the state and around the world.

The eight-week course, Supporting English Language Learners under New Standards, is funded by the Oregon Department of Education and begins Oct. 1. It will further position OSU and the state of Oregon as national leaders in how English language learners are served.

As many institutions have rushed to join this educational phenomenon in recent years, OSU administrators said they judged this to be the right time and opportunity for OSU to offer its inaugural MOOC, which are courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. OSU is already a national leader in more traditional online education.

“This will help us learn first-hand about this type of teaching platform, and identify how and where MOOCs fit in our learning ecosystem,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Sabah Randhawa. “It’s important to be open to new possibilities, and flexible and adaptable to new learning paradigms, including the MOOC learning format.”

Randhawa said OSU enters the MOOC arena with the university’s educational mission in clear focus - a commitment to help Oregon create a more educated citizenry and to provide students with broader, more affordable access to course options.

The developers and instructors of OSU’s first massive course expect widespread participation. It is open to teachers outside of Oregon and is especially relevant to educators in the 11-state ELPA21 consortium that is developing an assessment system based on new English Language Proficiency Standards.

“This is a perfect opportunity for OSU to enter the MOOC sphere because we’re doing it in collaboration with people who have successfully done it before,” said Karen Thompson, one of the course’s three instructors and an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Education.

“People have started to consider OSU a statewide leader in ELL education, and this MOOC represents an exciting opportunity for OSU to impact teaching and learning for ELLs everywhere.”

Course participants will work in teams to gather and analyze language samples from their students, exploring how ELLs construct claims supported by evidence. Thompson says the information educators gather one day in the MOOC can be directly applied in their K-12 classrooms the following day.

Joining Thompson as course instructors are Kenji Hakuta and Sara Rutherford-Quach of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, and the university’s Understanding Language initiative.

Oregon State Ecampus is also a partner in the MOOC and has provided multimedia and support services for the course, which opens for registration later this summer. More information is available at ecampus.oregonstate.edu/ell.

“Delivering a course in this open format goes hand-in-hand with Oregon State’s mission to provide access to high-quality education to learners around the state, country and world,” said Ecampus executive director Lisa L. Templeton. “Ecampus is excited to partner with the College of Education, Stanford and ODE to deliver this with no cost involved for learners.”

In recent years OSU Ecampus has gained national recognition as one of the best online extended education programs in the nation, from U.S. News and World Report, SuperScholar and other ranking agencies. The ranking criteria are based on such factors as faculty credentials, student engagement, degree diversity, academic quality and other issues.

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Tyler Hansen, 520-312-1276

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Karen Thompson, 541-737-2988