Grants Bring Open Educational Resources To Clarke University

Thanks to a major initiative led by the Iowa Private Academic Libraries, Clarke University has been awarded over $6,000 to invest in open educational resources. Clarke is one of 15 universities benefitting from the project sponsored by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.

Open educational resources are materials that are in the public domain or have been released under an open license, and the IPAL grants compensate faculty for adopting, remixing, or creating open resources. This can include everything from full courses to sections of textbooks, lectures, or assessments.

Clarke University received three grants through the program, with funds awarded to Associate Professor Tim Boffeli and Assistant Professor Olivia Aspiras in the Psychology Department. Professor Andrea Bixler also received an award to support the development of an open access writing guide for Biology students, which she is curating alongside Associate Professors of Biology Laura Birch, Shaun Bowman, and Laura Hecker. While each project approaches the concept of open educational resources differently, each promises real and lasting benefits for faculty and students alike.

In other news, the Dubuque Racing Association is lending its support to Clarke University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program with a $10,000 grant. The award will fund equipment upgrades that serve students and the community.

Assistant Professor Laurie Hiatt and Professor Jennifer Mai wrote the grant in order to purchase new body-worn sensors to aid in student research. The watch-size sensors can be worn by patients as they undergo physical therapy and rehabilitation work, and record information about each session. By placing sensors on a patient’s shoes, shins, thighs, and lumbar spine, students can also track a patient’s balance and decrease the risk of a fall. This speaks to an important safety concern, as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports 28% of adults aged 65 and older in Iowa experience a fall each year.

Beyond the student experience, introducing the sensors increases the impact Clarke can have on the community. On average, the Doctor of Physical Therapy program serves 90 area residents in a typical academic year. Since these sensors can be easily transported to off-site locations to examine gait and balance to members of our community, we hope to increase the number of residents we can serve through current and future partnerships as well as local health fairs.

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