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Written by Paige Marlatt Dorr
June 20, 2013

De Anza College mathematics professor Dr. Barbara Illowsky has received the 2013 OpenCourseWare Consortium’s Educator ACE Award for her work in creating an open statistics textbook that is in use by more than 20 colleges in North America and for working to expand open educational resources throughout the world.

Illowsky accepted her award recently at the consortium’s annual global conference in Indonesia. “I am most proud that this award is an acknowledgment and acceptance of the role that community college faculty have in educating students in North America,” said Illowsky, who also works for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Academic Affairs division overseeing the California Basic Skills Initiative. “My colleague, Susan Dean, and I wrote the textbook, Collaborative Statistics, back in the mid-1990s and converted it as an open education resource in 2007 to help community college students afford it so they could still go to school. Since then, students at De Anza College alone have saved more than $1 million.”

The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a worldwide community of hundreds of higher education institutions and organizations advancing open educational resources. Connexions, which hosts “Collaborative Statistics,” is a place to share and view educational material in small modules that can be organized as courses, books or reports. “Collaborative Statistics” is believed to be the most widely used open textbook in the world.

While OpenCourseWare and Connexion modules do not provide a degree, credit, or certification, or access to instructors, the materials are made available under open licenses for use and adaptation by educators and learners around the world. They differ from Massive Open Online Courses, Illowsky said, in that OpenCourseWare is accessed under Creative Commons licenses meaning they are free to use and reuse as the educator or student see fit as long as attribution is given to the authors.

“I’ve been told that the information in the book has been adapted by professors as far away as Qatar, in the Middle East. That’s exciting,” Illowsky said.

Illowsky has been an advocate of using technology to increase access to education for many years. She is a tenured professor of mathematics and former department chair at De Anza College, where she has taught since 1989. She is the past president of the California Mathematics Council Community Colleges where she has pushed for improving math instruction through the use of online and interactive curriculum.

Also earning an Education ACE award was Professor Chikaung Pai. Pai led National Chiao Tung University to launch a successful OpenCourseWare site. She is now the director of Open Education Office in National Chiao Tung University and the Chief Secretary of Taiwan OpenCourseWare Consortium.

“The work of these two recipients exemplifies the many amazing contributions by individuals across the open education community,” said OpenCourseWare Consortium Executive Director Mary Lou Forward. ”We are pleased to recognize the outstanding efforts these individuals have made to expand educational opportunity worldwide.”