Aligning with openCI efforts, we recently attended the openEd conference in Richmond, Virginia to gain a deeper understanding about the advances and innovative practices being made around Open Educational Resources. According to UNESCO, “Open Educational Resources are educational materials in the public domain or introduced with a public license” (UNESCO, 2012). To help clarify the variety of work taking place in this area and translate it into ideas that can apply to CI, we outlined five approaches to adopting OER and reducing textbook costs.
Approach 1: Selecting lower cost textbooks
This approach addresses the reduce costs of textbooks to students. Strategies for this include, contacting the bookstore to learn the cost of your textbook prior to adoption, selecting older editions of books, informing students about textbook rentals, check with library to see if there is an electronic ebook option.
- Pro: Reduced cost for students
Approach 2: Selecting Open Textbook (Free to use and remix)
Open textbooks are modifiable and are free to adopt or low cost to print. Often the difference with these textbooks are they can be reused, adapted, and shared in ways that make sense to the instructor aligning with the course learning objectives. These online textbooks fall under open educational resources (OER) because they are freely available to the public. For example, OpenStax is an open publisher of textbooks that are publicly shared and modifiable.
- Pros: Reduced cost for students, Ability to adapt textbook to meet learners needs
Approach 3: Curating materials
Curating materials is a process of collecting and organizing materials that are available to use for educational purposes. This may include library materials, Lynda.com videos, TED talks, Kahn Academy, government reports, etc. These materials are collected and made available to students through CI Learn or other platforms. These materials may be a combination of open and proprietary materials.
- Pros: Reduced cost for students, Ability to collect materials that are specific to course
Approach 4: Creating and adapting materials
This approach to creating materials can be a way to uniquely focus content to the experience you want the learner to become part of. Many OER resources are licensed for adaptation, this means you can use the material to create the learning experience you desire. Mix part of one chapter with a section of a video and an image that represents the exact concept you are teaching. Creating a website or curating open materials (OER) together as your course materials can be a creative way to offer multiple types of materials remixed as course content. Chrissy Spencer, Academic Professional at Georgia Tech provided a great example of this approach. She shared a biology course website (Biology 1510) developed collaboratively, in place of a textbook.
- Pros: Reduced cost for students, Collection of a variety of material types to offer a unique learning experience
Approach 5: Open pedagogy
This innovative approach involves engaging students in the creation and direction of the course materials. Through the use of OER, students and faculty can work together to create course materials that meet the student needs, focuses on course learning outcomes, and promotes student ownership. Students can engage in the development, writing, curation, or publication of materials, offering a unique approach to a truly student-centered course design. Robin DeRosa blogs about her experience with her students producing an OER Anthology pressbook last year in her American literature survey class. Course content in this case remains “living”, in an ongoing creative building process.
- Pros: Reduced cost for students, Student engagement and involvement in creation of open materials
To read more about the perspective of open pedagogy, I encourage you to read this blog by David Wiley, Chief Academic Officer of Lumen Learning. We hope to engage more discussions among faculty about what open means as openCI efforts continue to grow.