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Responding to advocacy and inspiration from the UT System Student Advisory Council, the Library Directors, faculty and other affordability champions, the UT System’s Affordable Learning Accelerator Task Force was convened from April 2019 to August 2020 to support and accelerate institutional efforts to expand the availability and affordability of high-quality, low- or no-cost, cutting-edge and next-generation instructional and learning resources to students.
The task force was formed in response to the growing convergence of interest and activity systemwide coalescing around Open Educational Resources (OER) and other digital and online instructional and learning resources as high-impact avenues by which to alleviate student financial burdens, increase college affordability, and enable more students to feel like they belong and can succeed at our universities.
The goals and work of the task force aligned with the UT System's student success framework, focused around the three pillars of Finances, Advising and Belonging.
The Task Force shared its report and recommendations with Chancellor J.B. Milliken in September 2020. Following guidance from UT System and institutional executive leadership, four priority areas have been selected from among the report recommendations for more immediate follow-up.
The full report and recommendations can be found here.
OER and COVID-19
COVID-19 has exacerbated the financial need and insecurity of students across the UT System. UT System students need Open Educational Resources now more than ever. Learn why and what UT System institutions can do about it in these two statements shared widely by the UT System ALA Task Force.
Task force members included academic leaders, library directors, faculty from the universities, as well as representation from key stakeholder groups including the UT System Faculty Advisory Council (FAC), the Academy of Distinguished Teachers, the Student Advisory Council (SAC), and the UT System Advisory Committee on Library Affairs.
Most members came from the academic institutions, in recognition that the System's eight universities enroll 225,000 students, of whom more than 175,000 are undergraduates, compared to 15,000 students enrolled at the six health institutions, of whom approximately 2,500 are undergraduates.
The task force was chaired by Dean Hendrix, Dean of Libraries at The University of Texas at San Antonio, and Rebecca Karoff, Associate Vice Chancellor in The University of Texas System Office of Academic Affairs. A full list of members can be found here.
Drawing on the leadership and expertise of faculty, students, staff and administrators from across the UT System, the Task Force was convened to:
Elevate awareness of, and deepen engagement with, existing high-quality Open initiatives, in the UT System, across Texas and with other states, with a focus on Open Educational Resources (OER);
Identify strategies and collaborative opportunities to expand the adoption and development of affordable and next-generation learning resources, including OER, existing library-purchased materials, low-cost business models that remove barriers to affordability, and other affordable resources across UT institutions, in Texas and nationally;
Assess and identify mechanisms for monitoring current and potential ROI of such efforts across the System;
Evaluate and identify metrics to assess the impact of OER and other affordability measures on student success outcomes; and
Identify funding opportunities to amplify the work on behalf of students across the UT System and Texas.
The task force focused broadly on financial well-being as critical to student success and engagement, and was mindful throughout its deliberations of quality, equity and inclusion as core values of the UT System, as well as faculty authority over the curriculum and decision-making about course materials and learning resources.