Learning About OERs at AALL

Congratulations to everyone who presented at AALL in Denver! Each program that I was able to attend was very well done. It was wonderful to be present at the conference and chat with so many colleagues that I have not seen in person in many years. The last AALL conference that I attended in person was in 2015! Now that I have had a few days to reflect on the conference, and dig back into my to do list, I’ve been thinking about the sessions I attended and looking for ways to incorporate what I learned.  

One session that I was especially interested in was “Using Open Educational Resources to Make the Law and Law School More Accessible and Affordable” presented by the University of Georgia’s Amy Taylor, Stephen Wolfson, and TJ Striepe. I wanted to learn more about this topic to be able to address faculty questions regarding OERs, and because I would like to use OERs in the advanced legal research classes that I teach. I already encourage ALR students to use the e-book version of the course book because they can access it via one of the library’s subscriptions for no additional cost to them, rather than spending money out of pocket for a print copy. However, I would like to put together open access course materials so that the students don’t have to worry about paywalls, subscriptions, or proxy links at all. 

The OER session began with background and context, including information about Creative Commons and different licensing options under Creative Commons, open access material, and fair use of copyrighted material. Then, the presenters shared tips and tools for creating OERs, plus resources for existing open access material. The session also included resources for evaluating the accessibility of OERs. In between each section of the presentation, questions were posted for the audience to facilitate discussion. Having the roundtable discussions interspersed throughout the program made it more engaging. Participants described tools and resources used at their own institutions, such as H2O and Pressbooks. They also shared ideas for breaking down faculty reluctance, such as highlighting the customization features of creating OERs. For encouraging use of existing OERs, librarians can emphasize that the eLangdell material from CALI undergoes an editorial process. Another suggestion was to look for institutional grants for creating OERs, in case faculty have concerns about cost, time investment, or need to hire RAs.

A few additional tools that the speakers highlighted were:

Illustration of a stick figure surrounded by text, graphics, audio, and video files; pulling files and arranging them in a single box.
OER Image by Manfred Steger from Pixabay.

About mkielmorse

Faculty Services Librarian at Indiana University Maurer School of Law
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