Los Angeles, June 21, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --


Dr. Gary K. Michelson and the Michelson 20MM Foundation are delighted to welcome Dr. Barbara Illowsky, a visionary academic and respected leader in the open education resources (OER) space, as the recipient of the inaugural Michelson OER and Innovation Fellowship. In her new role, Dr. Illowsky will help to advance open education initiatives across the three California higher education systems (CCC, CSU, UC), and offer her expertise to the foundation’s 15+ EdTech portfolio companies.  

Dr. Illowsky is currently a Professor of Mathematics & Statistics at De Anza College. She also serves as Chief Academic Officer of California Community Colleges’ (CCC) Online Education Initiative (OEI), an effort to increase opportunities for higher education degree attainment in California by leveraging best online practices and technology. One of Dr. Illowsky’s responsibilities in this position is to promote and lead the adoption of OER across the CCC system and nationally. She has developed unparalleled proficiency in this arena and will continue to drive support for OER throughout California universities when she transitions to her fellowship role on July 1st.

“There is perhaps no one in higher learning who has greater authority and experience in creating and championing open content than Dr. Illowsky,” says Dr. Gary K. Michelson. “She understands how OER makes college more accessible to greater numbers of people, and as a professor, she is well suited to advocate for the adoption of open content among her peers. It’s why we invited her to become our first Michelson OER and Innovation Fellow, and we’re thrilled that she accepted.”

During her tenure at OEI, Dr. Illowsky was instrumental in the creation of 30 sample course shells directly embedded with OER and also effective pedagogical practices. The project now helps faculty as they prepare to teach both online and face-to-face, and provides instructions for students on how to be successful in the course. She also initiated and led, with the assistance of Creative Commons (CC), a policy change for all CCC Chancellor Office grants to require CC BY licensing, which enables the free distribution of copyrighted work.

“I am so excited to assist our California colleges and universities in adopting and scaling up OER use. My passion for OER originated when I analyzed the inequities in college success for students who could not afford their high-cost textbooks. Ensuring that ALL students have access to course materials on the first day  of the course is one of most important social justice issues that I can personally affect. I am thankful that Dr. Michelson shares this passion and has extended this opportunity.”

Free or low-cost open content solves the challenge of expensive textbooks and learning materials which prevents many students from starting or completing their postsecondary education. Open content removes this costly barrier, making college more affordable and accessible. And because the content is easily editable, educators can quickly update course materials with new information and even make modifications to tailor the content for their class, improving the learning experience.

About Michelson 20MM Foundation
The Michelson 20MM Foundation supports and invests in leading-edge entrepreneurs, technologies, and initiatives with the potential to transform learning and improve access to educational opportunities that lead to meaningful careers. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned inventor and spinal surgeon Dr. Gary K. Michelson, and his wife, Alya Michelson. Learn more at www.20mm.org.

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Mayra Lombera
The Michelson 20MM Foundation
mayra@20mm.org