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OER Presentation

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OER Benefits and Challenges

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OER Presentation

  1. 1. OER: Benefits and Challenges Adam Austin Columbia Basin College
  2. 2. What is OER?  Open Educational Resources (OER) are materials designed for teaching and/or learning that are either public domain or are released under a license that allows them to be used freely.  Some of the licensures allow for modifications to the original work that may better work for an instructor.
  3. 3. Benefit #1 – Saving Students Money  Many students are under great financial pressure while they are in college (the 2015 National Student Financial Wellness Survey found 70% of students are stressed about their finances).  Cost of textbooks have gone up significantly.  From my own experience, students greatly appreciate having a free textbook (or resources) and it starts the class off on a very good note when they find out.
  4. 4. Benefit #2 – Puts Control Back in the Faculty Member’s Hands  Using OER allows for faculty to truly dictate what they want to teach and how they want to teach it. Textbook companies are developing more and more content to where a faculty member can just upload a prepacked cartridge to the Learning Management System (LMS) and be done. While this sounds tempting, it gives up some of the autonomy of being a professional and directing the course the way s/he believes is the best way.  In addition, when students are asked to pay a couple hundred dollars or more for a textbook, it is hard to justify deviating from it.
  5. 5. Benefit #3 – More Built-In Clarity  Traditional textbooks run into the issue of highlighting some concepts very well, and skimming other (or potentially not including them at all). To supplement this, faculty will find additional resources and provide it for students. With OER, many times the faculty member will be able to just edit the resource with the additional content and not have students use multiple resources which can be confusing to some students.
  6. 6. Benefit #4 – Expands Learning Opportunities  With OER, it makes it easier to share knowledge with everyone.  Anecdotally, I have had many people state they wish they could take a specific class (Forensic Psychology) but they do not have the credits to take it (it is just an elective) or they are too busy. I am able to share the resources that I use in that class with them, so if they want they can learn the material on their own. I have also had non-students tell me they are interested in learning more about psychology and I just send them the open textbook that I use in class.
  7. 7. Benefit #5 – Professional Development and Mentoring  In the OER literature, there are recommendations to have students assist faculty in the development of OER. This has multiple benefits to both the faculty member (less time needed, can focus more on areas of expertise, mentoring students) and the students (build a relationship with a faculty member for better Letters of Recommendation, improve writing skills, put on CV).
  8. 8. Challenge #1 - Quality  Just like textbooks, OER have great variance with the quality of content and presentation.  There typically is not a fully paid staff whose job it is to edit and proofread OER, so there will probably be some errors and typos.  Due to costs, some images may not be ideal.
  9. 9. Challenge #2 - Sustainability  Textbooks typically come out with new editions every 2 – 5 years. While this is an annoyance for faculty and students, it does provide for updated material.  OER does not have the same systematic approach to developing content as textbook manufacturers. So, that could mean that a resource never gets updated after the original creation.
  10. 10. Challenge #3 – Buy In from Students  While many students like the cost of OER, some will want a physical book instead of online materials. There are some companies that allow students to purchase a physical copy of the book, but others that do not offer this feature.  For students who have a specific study process that requires a physical book, this could be problematic.  In addition, anecdotally some students will forget that the textbook exists or never use it because they did not have to buy it.
  11. 11. Challenge #4 - Accessibility  Not all OER is accessible, which means that adopting faculty member may be responsible for making the resource accessible. This can be a time-consuming endeavor that the faculty member is not prepared for.
  12. 12. Challenge #5 – Time  Collecting and/or creating OER takes a lot of time. Unfortunately, many staff and faculty in higher education do not have sufficient time to do the work necessary to find or create quality resources for students.

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