by Annie Dubois

Education is intrinsically connected with sharing. After all, if we aren’t sharing and absorbing information, are we really learning anything? Open educational resources (OER) emphasize the importance of educational sharing by making teaching, learning, and research resources available to the public to reuse, revise, and redistribute for free.

Although copyright laws complicate the sharing of educational materials, nonprofits like Creative Commons offer free, easy-to-use copyright licenses to help educators make OERs accessible to all, bringing the gift of sharing back to education.

Regina Gong, the OER & Student Success Librarian at MSU Libraries, is an educator committed to expanding the presence of OER. Gong is well-known in the open education community and is an advocate of openness, equity, and access through her involvement on theCommunity College Consortium for Open Educational Resources, the MI Statewide OER Steering Committee, and SPARC Steering Committee, where she served as vice president for professional development.

“I'm strongly committed to making higher education accessible, equitable, and affordable for all students through the use of OER because I believe that quality education is a basic human right, not a privilege for those who can afford it,” Gong said.

At MSU, Gong has helped catalyze the library’s OER program, which is in its second year. The program is an institutional member of theOpen Education Network and asserts itself as an affordable, accessible, and equitable space that provides expertise and technical support to faculty and students.

OER can take many forms in higher education, ranging from technical to legal, pedagogical, and financial. For students at MSU, the library’s OER program can help decrease the cost of textbooks and other required learning materials that often present barriers to academic success.

MSU’s OER program also helps train faculty on OER, open licensing, open textbook publishing, and helps professors find technology platforms to support OER course content. These trainings ultimately make it easier for students across the university to reach their academic potential.

Gong obtained her master’s degree in library and information science at Wayne State University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education Program at MSU. Before joining MSU, Gong was the OER Project Manager at Lansing Community College where she led a very successful OER initiative.

Gong’s expertise in OER and dedication to student success is helping MSU students reach their full academic potential and positioning the university as a leader in academic accessibility, which is a growing focal point in the equity and inclusion conversation happening across higher education.