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Left to right: Open Education Consortium board members James Glapa-Grossklag and Barbara Illowsky, and Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources board president Quill WestDr. Barbara Illowsky of the California Community Colleges (CCC) Online Education Initiative (OEI) was elected to the board of directors of the Open Education Consortium, a global organization promoting free access to educational resources.

Illowsky, who is Dean of Basic Skills and Open Education Resources for the OEI, was inducted to the OEC board at a ceremony held earlier this month in Krakow, Poland, during the Open Education Global Conference 2016. She joins a board comprised of two to three members from each of North America, Latin/South America, Africa, Europe and Asia.

“I am very honored to have been elected to the Board of Directors,” Illowsky said. “I embrace and believe in the vision of the OEC. I truly believe that open education is one of the most effective ways to close the equity achievement and financial gap, both in the CCC system and throughout the world.”

"Barbara has been a well-known, hard-working, passionate advocate for open resources," said Pat James, OEI Executive Director. "It is such a tribute to her efforts that she be honored in this way! We at the OEI are very happy for her."

The Open Education Consortium—formed in 2005 as the Open CourseWare Consortium—promotes free and open sharing of high-quality educational resources, tools and practices around the world through technology and collaboration. Among its projects is the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER), a group promoting open education policies in the U.S.

Illowsky was the first Project Director of the CCCOER, which joined the OEC in 2011. The CCCOER was established in 2007 at Foothill-De Anza Community College District under the leadership of then-Chancellor Martha Kanter, who continued to promote the use of open educational resources as U.S. Undersecretary of Education from 2009 to 2013.

Open Education Consortium logoOEI’s Work Aligned With OEC

Illowsky said her involvement with the OEC will help to further the OEI’s work toward open education in California’s community college system.

“The Online Education Initiative has already been supporting the mission of the OEC. The materials the OEI develops, such as the Readiness Modules, are freely shared with the world via a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0),” she explained. “We know that other institutions within California and around the U.S. have adopted those modules."

“The past two years, the OEI has been in start-up mode with our pilots and plans,” Illowsky continued. “In the 2016-17 academic year, I expect to expand the OER aspect of the OEI.”

For example, the Academic Senate for CCC is working with the academic senates of the California State University and University of California through SB 1052 and SB 1053 and has established an open educational resources council and a digital open source library. “Part of what we can do is share the results of their efforts and leadership,” she said. “I can also bring international developments back to California and adapt them for use within the CCC system.”

CCC colleague James Glapa-Grossklag currently serves as the OEC board president. Glapa-Grossklag is Dean of Educational Technology, Learning Resources and Distance Learning at College of the Canyons, an OEI pilot college. He was the first community college representative elected to the body, and a past-president of the board of the CCCOER, according to Illowsky.

A Decorated OER Veteran

In 2011, Illowsky was awarded the OEC’s prestigious international Educator Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence (ACE). She was the third person worldwide and the first community college faculty member to receive this award.

She also co-authored an OER textbook, Introductory Statistics, by OpenStax College, which is used at close to 200 colleges and universities, including many CCCs and CSUs. Published in 2013 as a revised version of the 2006 open textbook, Collaborative Statistics, the textbook was the prototype for OpenStax College. In addition, Illowsky is on the Corporate Board of Directors of WebAssign, advising them on open textbook integration.

In 2015, OpenStax College recognized Illowsky’s work in OER by naming a conference room in her honor.

Crista Souza is the TechEDge News Editor