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BYU's Open Education Group received the 2017 Excellence in Research Award from the international Open Education Consortium in recognition of the more than 30 peer-reviewed papers the team has published since 2011—with seven just in the last year.
Graduate students Olga Belikov, Bob Bodily, Tarah Ikahihifo, Troy Martin, and De Laina Tonks work on the research under the mentorship of counseling psychology and special education chair Lane Fischer, ancient scripture professor John Hilton III, and adjunct McKay School professor David Wiley. The team also sponsors research fellows around the country—this year 27 of them—funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. "We love researching together with these students," said Fischer. "Students are the primary beneficiaries of our work. They are most adept at maximizing the benefits of new technologies. Students are the future of this research and its application to enhance education for all people."
With an increasing number of educators and students using open educational resources (OER), which are both free and open access, the group finds it rewarding to explore the challenges and benefits of the open resources movement. "There are people who have to choose between buying a textbook for a class and buying food for their child," Hilton says.
PhD student Tarah Ikahihifo has been working with the BYU group for a year. Ultimately, she hopes, "OER could revolutionize higher education and provide better opportunities for people who might otherwise drop out. If you can alleviate one source of stress or tension, maybe that is the relief they need to be motivated to keep going.”