The Committee on Higher Education
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
RE: SB 2328 Relating to the University of Hawai‘i
Attention: Chair Kai Kahele, Vice Chair Donna Mercado Kim and Members of the Committee
The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) opposes SB 2328 and requests the committee defer passage of the proposed legislation.
College affordability remains a challenge for many Hawai‘i students and their families. SB 2328 seeks to require use of open educational resources (OER) as a means to diminish the cost of textbooks and other instructional materials. While increasing access to instruction materials without cost to students is desirable this proposal is not the means nor the method to accomplish that outcome.
The proposal seeks to engage in a major infrastructure project without recognizing the necessary costs attached including issues of obtaining quality resources and academic rigor employed by faculty members in constructing their course content. Not all instructional materials are found in open access and there is cost attached. The University incurs major costs to obtain information and resources to support learning. (Hamilton library has budget challenges and is faced with eliminating the purchase of some educational resources)
The rapidity with which technology hardware and software change are additional challenges to the student and faculty member–you cannot have an online universe of materials without the proper tools; internet access; security; and academic and technology support personnel.
It should also be noted that providing materials that are accessible for disabled students is a major investment for an institution.
Most students must provide their own computers in order to participate in their course work. Simply eliminating the cost of a textbook does not eliminate the other important learning tools.
Even under the best of circumstances OER cannot provide instructional and research materials without a substantial investment in funds to develop materials and purchase academic resources that are not subject to open access.Further the construction of course content and methodology for delivery is no small cost. Depending upon the area of study specialized technology and software based resources are needed.
Simply commanding faculty members to turn over their intellectual property is not only offensive to academic practice but it fails to recognize that the content may be subject to peer review. It is one thing to make a syllabus available to students, as is currently required. It is another thing to assert that faculty are required to make their work available to all. Already, many faculty voluntarily share their work among their department and students. It is substantial legislative overreach for the legislature to act as the employer by assigning specific duties to faculty members.
SB 2328 is poorly designed to resolve the high cost of textbooks for students. UHPA encourages the Committee to reject this approach.