• Ashley Morrison

Meet the Open Texas Committee Members: Judith Sebesta (Steering Committee)



Name: Judith Sebesta


Preferred pronouns: she/her


Where do you work?

Digital Higher Education Consortium of Texas


What do you do there?

Executive Director


Where did you go to school?

BA: Austin College; MS: Florida State University; Ph.D.: The University of Texas at Austin


Where is your hometown?

Austin


What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I am a certified cheese professional.


How did you get involved with the Open Texas Conference?

My organization developed and implemented, with the Texas Higher Education Foundation, a statewide convening held in 2019 called Open Education Texas. After that event, we were so pleased to partner with the Texas Digital Library, which had held an Open Education conference in the year prior, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, to organize the first Open Texas Conference in 2021.


Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working on Open Texas?

I was so honored and excited to meet, albeit virtually, last year's keynote speaker Dr. DeRionne Pollard, former President of Montgomery College. Her clear understanding of how Open Education can support student access, success, and equity was inspiring. If you haven't watched her address, I highly recommend it (see https://youtu.be/p0XSWx_4vZk)!


The interest in open education seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?

I think there has been an increasing dissatisfaction among a wide range of postsecondary education stakeholders -- from those in power (policymakers, legislators, funders) to students and faculty members, and administrators and staff in between -- with knowledge existing behind gates that often require high costs to "open" and/or require collection of data that can put one's potentially private information at risk. At the same time, there has been an increasing awareness of how Open Education can support more equitable student success through benefits like affordability, access, better learning outcomes and student engagement, increased diversity and applicability of learning materials, and the like.


What do you think will change about open education in five years?

I think we are seeing an increasing, highly productive professionalism of the field. This includes recognizing the importance of both dedicated positions to oversee Open Education advocacy and practice, as well as more appropriate compensation for, and recognition of, the work in which professionals engage to advance Open Education. I also see more and more intentional, strategic efforts to coordinate work that is being done across our state, and also nationally and internationally, to avoid "reinventing the wheel" to ensure the most effective and efficient use of sometimes limited resources and to share the growing body of knowledge in the field. Finally, I envision the development of more innovative, creative "business models" to support the financial sustainability of Open Education.


What is your personal philosophy on open education?

Access to knowledge should be open and free!

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