by Jennifer Peters, OER Sub-Committee Chair
in the March 2021 issue
Open educational resources have been developed and used for over twenty years. Their impact has been felt worldwide but never as much as in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic really brought to light how access to open educational resources in digital format can impact a course. Aside from day-one access for all students, the cost-saving benefits for all students, and the increased course materials flexibility for faculty, many students with disabilities will find accessing their text doesn’t come with long wait lists for converting their material to an accessible format. Such processes can take weeks to months. Students have the added benefit of printing their texts or using it directly on their computers, tablets, or smartphones. For those with non-visible disabilities, this means they have less to carry around campus, taking weight off their backs for those with chronic pain issues.
At Seneca, we have invested time and resources into integrating open and no-additional-cost materials into courses across the college for years, and this year saw Seneca’s open text adaptation initiative grow even further.
Grants for Adapted Open Texts 2020-2021Two more rounds of grants were offered in 2020. These forthcoming text adaptations will be piloted in 2021:
Related Open Text ProjectsIn addition to the open text adaptation grants, there are many faculty using open texts, adapting open materials, creating their own materials, or finding other novel ways to provide their students with free, high-quality, customized course materials:
User Experience AssessmentThe Teaching & Learning Centre conducted a second user experience survey with students in winter and summer 2020 semesters about their perceptions of open texts in their class and while the response was generally positive, the response rate was extremely low. The winter response rate was especially low because of the COVID-19 pivot interrupting any possibility for data collection. Below are the results we were able to collect:
Open Texts Infographic for Winter and Summer 2020 Student Survey (.png)
Click for the full infographic or contact email@example.com for a text version.
Open Text Adaptation UsageFrom January 2020 to December 2020, these are the pageviews and unique pageviews* for adapted open texts from Google Analytics. While it’s difficult to draw any concrete conclusions from usage statistics, it’s clear the texts are being accessed multiple times online by the students in the courses.
*Pageviews vs. Unique Pageviews
A pageview is defined as a view of a page on your site that is being tracked by the Analytics tracking code. If a user clicks reload after reaching the page, this is counted as an additional pageview. If a user navigates to a different page and then returns to the original page, a second pageview is recorded as well.
A unique pageview aggregates pageviews that are generated by the same user during the same session. A unique pageview represents the number of sessions during which that page was viewed one or more times.
Cost SavingsBelow is a sampling of cost savings in various courses. It is very difficult to accurately estimate cost savings, as it is impossible to guess how many students would have purchased the text, how many would have purchased at a discount or at full price, and how many would have rented, borrowed from a library, or shared costs with another student.
One formula offered by BCcampus recommends estimating a high and low cost savings. We will use the cost of the previous text multiplied by half the number of students for the low estimate, and multiplied by three quarters for the high estimate.
*As there was not a standard text in the previous EAC149/150 courses that COM101/111 replaced, we used $60 as the cost of the previous text; this is the approximate mid-point between the reported range of $20-$112.
This results in a cost savings of between $1,645,597 and $2,468,396 for textbooks for students in these courses from September 2019 to December 2020.
Reflection and Future DirectionsThe past year has presented numerous challenges for the entire Seneca community. But the relief that was felt by the faculty who adapted or developed their open texts pre-COVID19 was evident. The nature of open materials allows for flexibility and seamless transition to the online environment. As Seneca moves forward into a post-COVID education environment, further expansion of open materials in high-enrollment courses seems like a valuable investment.
Contact UsIf you have any questions about any of the projects mentioned, please visit our online Faculty Guide to Open Educational Resources and Other Alternatives for Textbooks (Open Educational Resources) or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
View the March 2021 issue of the Academic Newsletter.