Open Educational Resources: An Interview With Kristin Lansdown

May 19, 2020

With summer now in session, though not how we imagined, we want to highlight how Open Educational Resources (OER) continues to support the campus community’s access to knowledge: Through providing courses, materials, modules, streaming videos, tests, software, and other tools. (Hewlett Foundation n.d.). We had the opportunity to have our own Kristin Lansdown, an Open Educational Resources Librarian, detail how her work and that of her colleagues helps the Libraries’ efforts to support instructional continuity. 

While the transition to remote work happened quickly, Lansdown acknowledged her shift was relatively easy in that her duties didn’t change. However, the timeline and need to assist instructors as they managed changes to their courses became more intense. 

“A lot of my work has remained the same except that I’m working on a more accelerated timeline to ramp up support for instructors who may be interested in incorporating open educational resources for their online courses this summer,” says Lansdown.

In considering some of the challenges she and her colleagues faced, Lansdown noted some unique points the COVID-19 crisis brought on. 

“Right before we began working remotely, I had just finished a successful Open Education Week,” she notes. “I was hoping to build on that momentum with instructors, students, and librarians, however, it has become somewhat eclipsed by the pandemic. Things have settled down a bit right now, so I’m hoping to start doing more targeted outreach to departments about how I can help.”

The Libraries efforts represent a constellation of affordable content initiatives across campus, such as engage e-text, among others.

Lansdown and the OER team continue to focus on providing options for the university community. She notes that it’s essential for instructors to understand if they’re interested in cost-savings for students, especially as many face increasingly tricky financial times, that the OER team can help by locating OER resources for courses. This is especially true for high enrollment courses and introductory-level courses. 

“We can discuss options for incorporating OER such as using a full textbook or various open materials to comprise the full course,” explains Lansdown. “They can also fill out this form to initiate a content search by the OER Team. For anyone who wants to learn more about open educational resources, in general, they should also reach out!”

Open Educational Resources already lend themselves to social justices by being high quality, freely licensed, and free of cost materials that can be incorporated into student learning. For low-income students, costs associated with a course beyond tuition can negatively impact academic success if students are unable to afford textbooks. With the pandemic, many student employees have lost their on-campus jobs, familial support systems may be experiencing unemployment, and international students may have already traveled back to their home countries following spring break. 

“OER can be a compassionate choice by instructors while we weather this crisis,” says Lansdown. “I hope that advocating for OER will make a difference for instructors and learners alike.”

We’re genuinely thankful for the work Kristin Lansdown and the Open Education Resources Team has accomplished. 

Here’s a quick snapshot of their work during this time: 

  • Created the Free Resources for Madison & Beyond LibGuide to bring together information about free resources, events, and services during the pandemic. 
  • Increased hours staffing chat reference 
  • Developed the Course Content and Instructional Continuity form to assist instructors who need to find digital course content that students may have lost in moving online. Also assisted the Campus Libraries Curricular Content Librarian and Director of Scholarly Communications in finding these resources 
  • Lansdown recently co-presented for the Connecting Students to Course Materials: Getting Help from UW Libraries information session. It provided information on digitizing course content, copyright considerations during COVID-19, and encouraged the use of Open Educational Resources to replace content when there is no suitable digital version available. 

Learn more by checking out this page!