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Mizzou Librarian Selected as SPARC Open Education Leadership Fellow

Joe Askins, head of instructional services for the University of Missouri Libraries, has been selected as a fellow in the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program, an intensive professional development program to empower library professionals with the knowledge, skills and community connections to lead successful open education initiatives that benefit students.The two-semester program blends online, peer-to-peer and project-based learning to build a comprehensive understanding of the open education space coupled with practical know-how to take action on campus and beyond. Joe is one of 27 fellows selected from a competitive application pool for the program’s 2019-2020 cohort.

“The University Libraries are committed to supporting open education on campus. We are proud that Joe has been selected for this program, and believe that his work will benefit students at Mizzou,” stated Ann Campion Riley, Vice Provost of Libraries. 

The SPARC Open Education Leadership Program spans two semesters, beginning with an intensive online course in the fall to build open education subject matter expertise. In the spring, Joe will work with a mentor to implement a capstone project that will help advance open education at MU and contribute back to the broader open education community as a whole. Joe will join the rest of the cohort in attending the 16th annual Open Education Conference in Phoenix, AZ in late October. 

The UM System’s A&OER initiatives were taking flight right as I arrived at the University of Missouri Libraries in 2017, and I’ve followed the A&OER Task Force’s efforts with great interest in the two years since. The SPARC Open Education Leadership Program represents a great opportunity to learn more about being an effective advocate for open education across the curriculum,” stated Joe Askins.

To support faculty in transitioning to more affordable and open educational resources, the University of Missouri System A&OER Taskforce has created a faculty-first grant funding programs for all UM System faculty who wish to adopt or develop new A&OER course materials. The University of Missouri is also part of the Open Textbook Network through their membership in the MOBIUS academic library consortium, and has a group in the MOBIUS OER Commons hub.

“Academic libraries sit at the intersection of faculty, students, and high-quality resources, and therefore are essential partners in advancing open education on campus,” said Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for SPARC. “A large part of what makes our program successful is the unique and valuable perspective each participant brings to it, and a vibrant community of practice develops amongst the cohort. We are proud to have Joe Askins among our 2019-2020 class.”

The University Libraries is a member of SPARC, which is a global coalition dedicated to making Open the default in research and education. For more information about the SPARC Open Education Leadership Program, visit