in the March 2019 issue
Open Education Resources (OER) are “teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under a license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others” (Hewlett Foundation).
The OER Stories series highlights faculty who are using or developing OERs. This article consists of questions answered by Michael Wade and Melissa Warner, the recipients of the OER Grants that were announced in Fall 2018.
What sparked your interest in OERs? – Michael WadeI had never heard of OERs until I saw the “Cracking Open Textbooks: Exploring Free Textbooks and Course Resources” breakout session at Teaching & Learning Day in February 2018. In that session, Jennifer Peters showcased how Debi Tziatis had put all the material for PPS100 – Professional Presentation Skills on a website using free material so that the students in her class wouldn’t have to buy a textbook. (To learn more about this OER, see the OER Stories article from the December 2018 issue of the Academic Newsletter.) I thought it was a great idea, but it wasn’t the right time to seriously consider OERs; we were in the midst of a three-year commitment with our textbook for BAM101 – Introduction to Business Administration. Near the end of 2018, I was about to put together a committee to choose a new textbook when I received the email about OER grants available to faculty to develop an OER textbook, so the timing was perfect.
How will you use OER in your teaching and learning? – Michael WadeI am using two American open textbooks and one Canadian open textbook; I’m incorporating parts from each to make a book that will cover our unique needs for BAM101. I will have a link in my Blackboard course site that will take the students directly to the OER textbook – no need for a user code or separate login ID.
In class, when I assigned a case or referred to something from the textbook, only about half the students participated – the ones that have purchased the textbook. Now, all my students will have free access to the text which will lead to better classroom discussions and homework completion rates.
For a discipline like business, content and examples go out of date very quickly. We were traditionally using a textbook for three years and by the third year, companies referenced in the book had gone bankrupt or the economic numbers had changed. With an OER, we can update the content and examples before each semester.
I also intend to get student feedback, especially during the first semester of using the OER. The students can tell us what sections were worded in a difficult manner. This will be especially helpful for our international and ESL students. Sometimes we don’t realize we’re using difficult words or Canadian examples that not everyone is familiar with. We can take their feedback and adapt the book each semester to better meet the needs of our diverse student body.
What work is involved in adapting an open text? – Melissa WarnerThe work involved in writing an open text varies depending on which text you are adapting and how applicable it is to your context. The work effort involved in adapting your OER needs to be carefully considered prior to beginning the project. Various factors will impact funding and timelines of your OER adaptation. Below are some questions to ask yourself before embarking on the OER project that will impact your project plan:
After you have considered all these factors that may impact the project plan for your OER, a project plan should be developed with the appropriate timelines and work effort allocated.
As you are implementing the project plan, make sure the key stakeholders are kept informed of the progress.
Any advice for colleagues interested in adapting an open text? – Melissa WarnerI would have 4 main pieces of advice regarding adapting an open text:
View the March 2019 issue of the Academic Newsletter.