What's happening

I keep reading phrases in like extraordinary times, challenging times, or similar descriptions that try to connect where we are at and the changes happening around us. I do not write today with that in mind. I write to say that today, teachers, support staff, and administrators are doing the same job they have always done. They are standing up for the universal human right for everyone to have secure and equal access to a quality education today.

Each and every one of us deserves something to hang on to, to look toward in the future, to know that there is something that is ours alone that will carry us forward wherever we choose to go in whatever landscape the world provides us. This us is not you and I, but the ever binding race of humanity.

Today is no different than any other day in that the profession of education still stands to provide the opportunity to earn and forge our individual ways through this life with hope, with perseverance and personal cost, with defeats and setbacks, with triumphs and successes. Education does this not as individuals but as a profession seeking everyday to make the world around us better, to keep giving hope to each individual who enters into its doors. Whether its a kindergarten student learning their letters or a graduate student hoping to publish their research, education works to meet the needs of its students.

We know that we aren't perfect. We know that there are areas that we fail and that we excel in. We also know that every day we continue working to give every human access to the education they deserve.

Today is no different than every other day in that each of you working in this field are still doing this regardless of the times we are in. For that, you, my fellow members of this profession, are worthy of honor and gratitude. Thank you.


Our path is the same, even if it looks new or less traveled.

Open Education

Today is no different than days before in that there are a variety of resources and sources by which education provides the materials students need. What has dramatically changed, without an end in site, is our students' ability to use, access, and acquire these resources.

Open education is a field within education that provides quality materials and resources without cost, with unlimited ease of access. For the last couple of decades, open education has worked diligently to be the answer and equalizer for quality and equitable education.

In a time when publishers and digital platforms are working hard to change practices and give students access, open educational resources do not need work. Their free and open access has always been there and will continue to be.

What is different about today is that need for consistent, affordable, and equitable access to educational resources is no longer an area of education that we can afford to discuss.

Today's student has more access and financial challenges than they've ever faced. Open educational resources (OER) are no longer a subset or portion of education that can be investigated or tried with proverbial toes dipped into the water. They are not the future of education. They are the today and tomorrow of education.

What is different about today is that how education responds to our students' needs and challenges today will define how we move forward as a profession. We have the opportunity to stop trying to address the issues of textbook affordability and make some monumental changes to a system that is very broken.

As members of this profession, there has never been a better time or a greater need to change our standard practices of doing business in the classroom than today.

Today is about getting education to our students.

Let's take this unprecedented opportunity to not give them more financial barriers, sign publisher contracts or commitments that they will have to abide by for the future, or providing more access walls for them to traverse.

There is a world-wide community just waiting to help you find the way.

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Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Please use and share with your colleagues widely. Found another great resource you would like to share? Let me us know and we will add it. A downloadable copy can be found here.



Faculty Advice: Remote Access & Open Education

Getting Students Text Access

Many students are without access to their textbooks or other course materials, and finding online access can be a challenge.

· Check with your campus library! Many texts are accessible or can be made accessible through the library eBook collections.

· Cambridge University Press Core Textbooks are available for free online adoption through the end of May 2020

· RedShelf - Borrow up to 7 ebooks from major publishers for free through May 25, 2020.

· VitalSource - Borrow up to 7 ebooks from major publishers for free through May 25, 2020.

· Brief review of copyright practices during COVID-19: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10baTITJbFRh7D6dHVVvfgiGP2zqaMvm0EHHZYf2cBRk/preview

Consider Open Educational Resources

Why Open Education

● Content found on the internet and provided by commercial publishers is under “all rights reserved” copyright unless otherwise specified

● Open licenses allow copyright holders to specify in advance, and in perpetuity, that their works can be reused, customized, and widely shared by others

● Openly licensed materials can be accessed online for free or in print at low cost

● Students are already struggling to pay for their education. With the skyrocketing costs of textbooks, over 60% can’t or don’t purchase your required text and struggle in your class. Open materials allow all your students to equally succeed.

● The research shows that using open educational resources works!

● Find a wide variety of resources at https://trailsmt.org/find-oer/

● See what other Montana faculty are already using: https://www.opentrailsmt.org/resources

How to get help:

● Open Educational Resources (OER) contact on your campus: Ask your Librarian

● Statewide OER Coordinator: Christina Trunnell

● What is OER and How to get started: https://www.opentrailsmt.org/

● Ask and answer questions on the statewide OER listserv: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/mt-oer-discussion-group

● Ask or search answers on the national Open Textbook Network listserv:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/open-textbook-network

● Learn more with archived webinars featuring national OER experts: https://www.cccoer.org/webinar/

Student success

● Students will need extra care, patience, and clarity as they experience disruption and hardship due to being laid off, child care, family care, tech snags, and more.

● OER can be made available in print at low cost. If a bound copy isn’t already available for purchase, upload a pdf to https://www.lulu.com/ so that students can order copies. Let the bookstore know the course materials you plan to adopt.

● OER can be made fully accessible. More info in PCC’s Accessibility Handbook and from the accessibility services department: [accessibility contact info here]

● Affordable course materials are going to be more important to students than ever. If you don’t find OER that will work for your course, consider using library resources.

● Students will need a place to voice their experiences during this time. Consider adding a discussion board or forum in your online class just for the students to vent, connect personally, and help each other troubleshoot their online experience. They need a safe space to do this.

● SIMPLIFY! Don’t be afraid to cut out content. As John Green said in a TEDX talk, “intellectual engagement instead of ironic detatchment” while inundating students with too much information is the key to quality learning. With so much newness being forced upon them in the world and the classroom, focus on the key elements of your course. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1caQ1jG4_ncY5eQgs5F72jBlPb62qQ8Yl/view

● Reach out to others in the community for ideas or help. Here are some open licensed materials faculty and instructional support members have already created: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1iQtZoDphA5XYKHR32zUYJ9imjCh4c1DOfg14MRB7G_I/edit?usp=sharing We are all in this together.


See the Advice sheet for Students for some free resources to share with them.



This post was adapted from Pandemic Support Sheets for Faculty & Students is adapted from Open Oregon Educational Resources and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Was there ever a more obvious pair as open educational resources and online instruction?

These are natural and easy partners. Why? Because open educational resources (OER) do not all approach providing information the way traditional academic publishing resources do.

They are customizable, curated, specific, and flexible.

This means that your students are not getting all the information on a topic possible. The chances that they read the materials increases when students know that they are being given material that is digestible and relevant to the lessons or tasks at hand.

This means that instructors are relieved from the pressure and struggle of covering too much in a course, trying to make the text fit their course, or adapting their course so much that their students don't even use the materials assigned to pass the course.


OER gives instructors the freedom to match course materials with exactly how they teach and what their students need to learn.

Need some convincing? This recent article from Inside Higher Ed has great insight from faculty across the U.S. Read what they have to say about making the change.


The challenge for many instructors changing their courses to online instruction or to OER is the approach to identifying course materials. In general, instructors are looking for learning materials on their subject, ie. broad coverage. Then, they look for coverage within that text for specific topics.

That's too much work and hard to do without getting overwhelmed.

Approach it in steps. Not by course, but by each topic and lesson taught. This may sound like more work, but will ultimately be easier and help both instructors and students succeed.



Need a little help? That's what we are here for!

  • The TRAILS Intentional Design course was created to help faculty do just this. It will take you step-by-step through the process of changing your course to OER. Montana faculty can join in here with colleagues across the state. The course is free, asynchronous to meet your time needs, and can be taken by any instructor, regardless of their location. Join the class here.

  • The Open Learning Institute is offering to waive all course fees, allowing faculty to register and use their online courseware at no charge. Learn more here.

  • More tactile of a learner and don't want to go through a course? Use this Faculty Workbook for a quick step-by-step guide.

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CONTACT >  T: 406-994-5715

E: christina.trunnell@montana.edu

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Site and subsequent materials, created by Christina Trunnell, licensed with CC-BY 4.0 International License to TRAILS OER Program.  Images on the site, unless otherwise noted, are licensed to Christina Trunnell.