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Getting to know Dianna Fisher

Open Oregon State director

Dianna Fisher, Open Oregon State director, poses with arms crossed in front of her. She wears a vibrant blue button-up shirt with light blue butterflies on it.

When she’s not working with faculty to develop open textbooks for students around the world to use online, Dianna Fisher is trekking the globe and visiting places where internet access is scarce. (Photo by Rick Henry)

By Tyler Hansen
Aug. 15, 2016

When Oregon State Extended Campus developed a unit focused on online educational resources (OER) in 2013, it turned to Dianna Fisher. Dianna already had more than a decade of experience working with university faculty, mostly as the director of online course development and training for OSU Ecampus. She was appointed director of Open Oregon State in early 2014 and has played a vital role in making college more affordable for students and giving educators broader access to the tools they need. Under Dianna’s leadership, Open Oregon State formed a partnership with OSU Libraries and OSU Press to create an open textbook initiative that gives students free access to course reading materials. In July, OSU received a $30,000 grant to adapt an open biology textbook. Dianna holds an M.A. in Anthropology from OSU and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Forestry, also from OSU.


Hometown

Plymouth, Massachusetts

How long have you worked at Oregon State?

16 years

What excited you about working with OSU Ecampus and, later, Open Oregon State?

“During my time with Ecampus, what excited me about the work was knowing that we were making it possible for place-bound learners to continue their education. Now that I am leading Open Oregon State, it’s an incredible feeling to know that we are working with faculty to not only make textbooks free, but that they are also customized exactly how they want to teach their course rather than how a publisher thinks they should teach their course.”

What’s the best part about working with Oregon State faculty to create open educational resources (OER)?

“Making an immediate impact on students is the best part. Students who, in the past, either did not buy a textbook or shared with classmates now have access to their course materials before the first day of classes, and for as long as they want to continue using the resources.”

How do you envision OER reshaping the college experience for students over the next five to 10 years?

“OER will continue to make it more affordable. We cannot control the cost of the tuition, but we can control the cost of the course materials. Students can’t learn if they don’t have access to the course materials. As open textbooks are adopted more widely, faculty will see the advantage of using materials that can be mapped directly to outcomes and customized how they choose – the use can only grow!”

“We cannot control the cost of the tuition, but we can control the cost of the course materials. Students can’t learn if they don’t have access to the course materials.”

What do you wish others knew about your job?

“It’s fun and there is a huge community of others around the world who are doing the same thing.”

What’s your greatest accomplishment working for OSU?

“Being part of a team that really cares about the mission of a land grant university and providing access to education to those who might not otherwise have access.”

What’s your best piece of advice for faculty who want to develop OER?

“First, check to see what is already out there. Quite a lot of materials already exist. One of the best features of OER is that you can take what’s there and adapt it to fit your needs. It’s quite likely we can find something to use as a starting point.”

Tell us something surprising thing about you that people don’t know.

“In the past, I used to work in the intelligence field in Berlin, Germany – behind the wall during the Cold War.

“Currently, I like to travel to challenging places. Last year we drove across Africa in a four-wheel drive truck (Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and then walked into Zambia).  We generally do not vacation in places where there is electricity or cell phone service.”

What are your favorite activities outside of work?

“Traveling, photography and anything outside – hiking, backpacking, kayaking, running.”

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