Emilie Rusch

New cohort of University Innovation Fellows focused on open educational resources

Connor Smith and Sarena Nguyen were among 360 students from 90 universities in 13 countries named Innovation Fellows this fall
Connor Smith, center, and Sarena Nguyen, right, with advisor Mirna Mattjik

University Innovation Fellows faculty champion Mirna Mattjik poses with the Mines Fall 2019 cohort, Connor Smith and Sarena Nguyen, after their pinning ceremony.

Photo by Vicknesk Balabaskaran/Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines’ newest cohort of University Innovation Fellows hopes to encourage the use of more low-cost or no-cost educational resources across campus to the benefit of both students and faculty.

Connor Smith and Sarena Nguyen were among the 360 students from 90 universities in 13 countries who were named Innovation Fellows this fall. The UIF program, run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, aims to empower students to become agents of change at their schools.

Open educational resources, or OERs, are freely available teaching and learning materials that are licensed for others to re-use, modify and re-distribute—including textbooks, lesson plans and even full courses.

“OERs are an amazing resource that has the potential to help out a lot of the incoming students as well as the current students by offering professors a chance to have free, accessible and adapted textbooks to teach their classes,” said Smith, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering.

The innovation fellows are currently working to identify core classes that would impact a large number of students should OERs be adopted by the instructors, said Nguyen, a junior majoring in chemical engineering.

“It would reduce the financial burden on students significantly,” Nguyen said. “Many students would not have to choose between their grades and necessities if OERs were more commonplace around Mines. In addition to this, the coursework would be more tailored toward what instructors want to teach their students, rather than having a general textbook from a publisher.”

The new fellows also hope to find ways to support the Mines OER Steering Committee, a campuswide group that administers a mini-grant program to incentivize Mines faculty to adopt, adapt or create OERs. Funding for the grant program comes from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Mines and Graduate Student Government.

“The University Innovation Fellows group is a great resource to bounce off ideas and help catalyze change on campus,” Smith said.

Emilie Rusch

Emilie Rusch

Director of Communications
About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.