ISSUED: 16 February 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Rhonda Donaldson, coordinator of research services at Shepherd University’s Scarborough Library, has been accepted into the Open Textbook Network’s Certificate in OER Librarianship program. Donaldson was one of only 65 librarians across the country accepted into this professional development program with a goal of creating effective leaders who want to be stewards and advocates for open educational resources (OER).
“It is an honor to be chosen for this certificate program out of such a large field of talented librarians,” Donaldson said. “Librarians who participate will develop comprehensive knowledge in open education and open education programming and be able to apply that knowledge within their own local context, culture, and goals.”
Donaldson will participate in five weeks of online programming beginning February 21 and four or five months of cohort-based Zoom calls facilitated by librarian-mentors who are open educational practitioners. Donaldson will work on a culminating project—a template that will help her strategically plan an OER initiative at Shepherd.
“I’ve been interested in implementing OERs into the classroom since I began my Master of Library and Information Science studies 13 years ago,” Donaldson said. “At the time, it was difficult to find quality open educational resources easily.”
Donaldson said OERs have been around for years in one form or another and the quality has risen over the years. She said they are a cost-effective alternative to expensive textbooks.
“Faculty often struggle to adopt, adapt, or create alternatives to textbooks—which is often a prohibiting factor for many students,” Donaldson said. “I want to pursue this certification to create partnerships with the faculty and within the larger university to assist in finding and adopting these resources, while also helping students succeed in college without having to make the choice between buying a textbook or paying their bills. Saving students money is one way to make college more accessible for low income and diverse student groups.”
Donaldson hopes earning the certification will help supplement her knowledge on what constitutes fair use, copyright, and open access, and will help her learn more about publishing OERs and open access content.
“Librarians should be a part of the collaboration between faculty and students as they dip their toe or dive right into the OER publishing world during their capstone or other research endeavors,” Donaldson said. “Librarians do so much more than organize or check books in and out of the library. We are all about the success of both students and faculty. As Aaron Burr so eloquently put it in Hamilton, ‘I want to be in the room where it happens,’ and we are.”
Donaldson has started introducing the Shepherd community to OERs by creating a LibGuide on open educational resources on the library webpage. She and Rachel Hally, coordinator of collections, gave a presentation last February to faculty titled “Open Education Resources—What they are. Why they are important. How we can help!” They are also seeking grants to expand OER opportunities.
“With the West Virginia Legislature passing the 2019 West Virginia Program for Open Education Resources bill, I want to encourage faculty to reach out to their subject liaisons at the library about how we can work together to implement OERs into classes,” Donaldson said. “As always, the Scarborough faculty librarians are here to help.”
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