For some in higher education, the idea of using Open Educational Resources (OER) creates fear. The professor (and student) immediately said, “No, thank you!”
But that is not the case with James Wilson, an associate professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. In the last nine years, Wilson has not used the book for a profit in his computer algebra classes. He and his students happily use open educational resources for textbooks.
Wilson knows how to find high-quality OER publications that offer low-cost benefits to students and reduce the huge stress of marking on professors. He also knows that proper OER provides an opportunity for professors to teach the latest research and make areas like math and science more inclusive and move away from traditional text and homework assignments that often lack a variety of perspectives.
Recently, Wilson sat down with Edsers to discuss why he believes more professors should accept OER. He also shared his favorite place to find quality resources.
AdSerge: Why are you so supportive of OER in high ad?
Wilson: Good OER publications have a lot to offer students and professors! They cost less, the content is more up-to-date, they offer high quality online homework and they offer alternatives to broken publishing models.
When you look at the curriculum we teach on repetition, with the same expensive book, it’s hard to believe that every teacher, collectively, agrees to use the same text over the years from one major publisher. Is it really best for students? If you spend time thinking about what books you need and “What will help me to be a better teacher for these students?” OER pops up at the top of the list without much effort.
Here’s how I see it. As a student, I did not have much money. I was working my way up in college and I paid a lot for books. The teacher did not use the material in the book after the teacher. And yet they were not great books. Now that I’m choosing books, it’s my responsibility not to repeat them.
What does the price difference with OER look like?
In the state of Colorado, we partner Lyryx. So, digital textbooks are free — or students can pay to have them printed; Lyryx prints well. This is a quality edited book and is integrated into the online homework text. Students can access the online homework system for free on campus Free lab Pay around $ 40 to access the option or homework off-campus.
Previously, standard books used by our university were sold at द 100 + per semester. After that, online grading will be another 40. Students were spending $ 100, $ 150, and in other courses, such as biology and chemistry, that figure was $ 200 or more.
Now our students can use the book and online homework completely free. Many of them pay to access homework at home, but we’ve still reduced the price by about a third. We estimate that, for each coordinated class of 200 students, we save their combined amount of about $ 15,000.
What are your main thoughts when looking for high-quality resources?
The OER publications that come out are getting better and better every year, but you have to spend time figuring out what is right for you and your students. You can’t wait until the last minute or pick the first thing that comes to mind or something that hasn’t been reviewed. Mostly, I would say it starts with knowing that this resource is a high-quality editorial review.
Many knowledgeable people are creating OERs, but they may not have many years of teaching experience. They may not have considered the advantages of using different metaphors to explain things to students from different backgrounds, or the disadvantages of using a different sequence. They may have overlooked the effort required to assign homework assignments to graduate students who find it difficult to get into a field first.
Then, online homework grading for technical science books is huge. It’s hard to teach the proportions of the classes we need to teach without it. But the types of queries in the Lyryx products I use also fit the types I want to categorize. They find creative ways to ask questions that allow students to show ideological understanding. I think it’s reasonable to partner with regular, written grading that only happens on a small scale. It is more durable.
You also advocate for OER outside of your own class. What is your big-picture vision for how OER can affect students and learning?
The state of Colorado is a large public institution. We serve a very large, diverse population. There are many first time university students who have no family members who have been to university before. Many of them are coming with financial difficulties and they are paying as they go. I can relate to him; That’s how I went to college.
Science has a lot of fees related to classes and it can discourage students. If we do nothing to reduce that bar, a single cultural perspective will continue to dominate science. That is what is going to happen. With less cost and opportunities to use new text written by people from a more diverse population, OER can help us get away from it.