Natalie Miller, a College of the Canyons graduate, was awarded a 2018 Student Award on Tuesday, April 24 by the Open Education Consortium for her essential role in the success of the college’s Open Educational Resources program.
OERs are teaching and learning materials that have been released in the public domain or under an intellectual property license as a no-cost alternative to costly commercial textbooks.
A current student at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, Miller was honored at an awards ceremony held at the Museum Prinsenhof in Delft, Netherlands.
“As a student my age, it was unimaginable coming from a community college,” Miller said about receiving the award. “I’m representing a population of students that is sometimes underrepresented.”
As a college assistant at COC, Miller created a promotional campaign to promote OER among faculty and students. She created multiple open textbooks that are used by thousands of students, established a workflow for OER creation, and trained other students for OER projects.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” Miller said. “I started researching OER and I just went for it and created a program.”
Her hard work paid off. At COC, OER is used instead of commercial textbooks in over 200 courses, saving students more than $3,000,000 in textbook costs last year.
“Thousands of students who can use free textbooks, with material selected by their own professors, can be grateful to Natalie for her efforts to promote OER adoption,” said James Glapa-Grossklag, Dean of Learning Resources at the college and past president of the Open Education Consortium.
In fall 2017, an OER degree associate degree pathway in sociology was created at the college.
During the 2018 summer session, more than 70 OER courses will be offered online and at the college’s Valencia campus.
As an OER ambassador, Miller trained faculty and students on OER search and open licensing, and also spoke at conferences and workshops.
“Her work extends past COC because she has helped to shape the OER degree initiative across the state, which benefits all California community college students,” said Glapa-Grossklag, who is pictured above with Miller.
Miller graduated from COC in 2017 with associate degrees in computer science, mathematics, and physics, and a certificate in web design. She is currently studying computer science at Cal Poly SLO.
Miller’s trip to the Netherlands to accept the award in person was made possible with support from the Canvas Learning Management System, which is an open-source learning management system used by educational institutions, including College of the Canyons.
The Open Education Consortium is a global network of individuals, organizations and educational institutions that are supportive of the open and collaborative approach to educational materials.
For more information about the college’s OER initiative, visit the program’s web page.