Michelle Igarashi – Pass the Point of No Return or Regrets

This is a special guest blog post by Michelle Igarashi, English instructor at Leeward CC.


I started using OERs in 2014 when a publisher’s representative informed me that my textbook would be undergoing yet another round of “updating” and thus my students could no longer purchase used copies.

During a conversation with one of Leeward’s fine librarians, I discovered a wonderful new type of online text known as an “Open Educational Resource.” The clincher? These books were FREE!!!

I was dubious at first and thought there was no way a no-cost, and, gasp, online textbook could be as good as its bound counterpart. Also, I worried about accessibility. Socio-economic discrimination weighed heavily on my mind as I considered whether going 100 percent online would be appropriate and fair to all students. Therefore, for my first OER semester, I offered the students the option of printing chapters from our classroom printer (We have some tech in the room thanks to a grant.) if they so desired. No one took me up on it. I have been “textbook cost $0” from that point on, and every semester I offer students the printing option and not one has printed a single page.

My students have commented in class and on my evaluations that they love the online resources. I teach Career and Technical Education designated classes; many of my students spend their mornings in shop or in kitchens. Pupils have shared how they love having their textbook in their pockets, and how easy it is to pull out during breaks. Moreover, a couple of weeks ago, my classroom flooded, and we were relocated into the D building portables. I was concerned we’d have reading issues since we were without our usual classroom tech. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when, without missing a beat, students sat down, pulled out their phones and began reading. One even read from a flip! I captured the moment in the photo above. It looks like I have no classroom management, but as I walked around, every student had the OER pulled up, and, with no prodding, the day’s assignment was well done and completed on time.

Since adopting OERs, my students’ reading comprehension scores have gone up. Discussions are fuller as more students complete homework. No one “forgets” his/her book at home. Students like the interactive nature of OERs with clickable links as opposed to footnotes or having to flip to other parts of the book. Besides having to hide whenever a publisher’s representative walks through the Language Arts’ hallway, all is well.


Posted by Leanne in Faculty Leaders, Leeward, OER, Open Access Week

Kelsie Aguilera’s OER Journey with Anthropology

The following is a special guest blog post by Kelsie Aguilera, Anthropology instructor at Leeward CC.

kelsie-aguilera-oer-2016-2jn0m6d-300x258I first became aware of Open Access (OA) my first week working here at Leeward CC. My office mate at the time was Jayne P. Bopp, instructor in Sociology. Over the course of that first week sharing an office with Jayne, I noticed that she seemed to have found a magical way to avoid all the customary beginning of the semester drama revolving around textbooks. The customary beginning of the semester drama revolving around textbooks includes, but is not limited to, the following student gripes:

  • “Not knowing” what book is needed even though the syllabus clearly indicates the required textbook.
  • Not being able to afford the textbook.
  • Lamenting about not only having to buy an expensive textbook, but also having to read the textbook in spite of being far more adapted to acquiring information on demand (like a Google search) and via more interactive avenues (like educational videos on YouTube).
  • Seeing little value in textbooks. This idea is so pervasive among students that many avoid buying their required textbooks all together. For example, my older brother recently graduated from a well-known community college on the mainland and always boasts that he managed to acquire a B.S. in Education with a ‘B’ average, without ever buying a single required textbook!
  • Unwillingness to commit to my course with full 100% effort in the beginning of the semester because of “not having the book yet”.

Mind you, this list does not even touch upon the multitude of possible instructor gripes!

I soon learned from Jayne that this seemingly magical way of avoiding textbook drama was through providing Open Educational Resources (OERs) to students rather than assigning a traditional (paid) textbook. She then showed me how to search for free, open textbooks as well as how to make them available to my students. Unfortunately, I could not find an anthropology OER textbook, as anthropology is not one of the more “popular” college disciplines like psychology, math, and writing. I quickly abandoned my OER dreams until last Spring semester, when I took the Go Open, Go Free Using OER workshop series at Leeward CC, facilitated by the EMC and Library. If you’re interested, this workshop series will be offered again in the spring semester. Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/go-open-go-free-using-oer-spring-2017-registration-28872347970.

In the workshop series, I was guided through the process of curating a set of my own free, OERs. I learned that I no longer had to wait around for a perfect OER textbook to materialize; I could collect my course OERs myself! I loved the freedom and creativity involved in being able to pick and choose my course materials. With a traditional textbook, I disliked that so much of the content covered in the textbook was content that did not align with my Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs), and therefore, I would never assess. Why assign a dense textbook chocked full of material that is irrelevant to the goals of the course? With OERs, I was able to choose a set of relevant and diverse resources – academic journal articles, podcasts from NPR, latest blogs from professional anthropologists currently out in the field, and information from credible anthropological websites like National Geographic. I am lucky that in my discipline of anthropology, many of us have made a commitment to Open Access. In fact, many anthropologists are starting to avoid the traditional publishing route and make their research openly available. And yes, much of these resources that I now assign as part of my set of OERs have earned the esteem of being “peer reviewed”. And no, not a single student from any of the six course sections that I have transitioned to OER in has complained about not having access to online resources.

I personally believe that my ultimate goal with my introductory level anthropology courses here at Leeward CC is to inspire students to have a life-long appreciation and understanding of anthropology, whatever their academic or career paths may be. I personally believe that adapting to student needs by providing curated, relevant, and credible OERs in a variety of content types was an important step in helping me work towards this goal.

Posted by Leanne in Faculty Leaders, Leeward, OER, Open Access Week

OER Benefits for Students

By: Cara Chang, Writing Instructor at Leeward CC. Video produced by: Michele Mahi, Speech Instructor at Leeward CC. Special thanks to Michele’s COM 210H students for sharing their views on OER.

Students from Speech Instructor, Michele Mahi’s COM 210H class, candidly share why they appreciate using Open Educational Resources (OERs) in her class. In sum, students appreciate Michele’s incorporation of OER materials in the course because:

  • The text is available 24-7, so there is no excuse as to why students can’t do their homework.
  • It is free, which means students can focus on paying for their classes and not the added cost of textbooks.
  • The textbook is tailored to the course.
  • It is relevant for the class and provides many different perspectives.
  • It encourages the instructor to curate excellent materials for the content of the course, which means that he/she is involved and invested in the making of the course.
  • It is more fun than reading a textbook.
  • It is convenient and easily accessible.
  • It is easy to share information with others.
  • It is reflective of the “real world” which requires the use of technology.
  • It is environmentally friendly.
  • It is exciting and encourages learning!

View the video to see Michele’s students’ testimonies of why they like and how they have benefited from using OER in their COM 210H class.

Posted by Leanne in Faculty Leaders, Leeward, OER, Open Access Week, Student

Amazon Jumps into Digital Ed Resource Business; Starts with OER

OER is becoming more mainstream with Amazon expanding into the OER market.

Amazon has expanded its footing in the education arena with a new service that allows teachers to search for, curate, share, review and access digital resources for use in the classroom. The program is intended to help reduce the amount of time teachers spend online hunting down learning materials for their students.


Link to full article
Posted by Leanne in OER

Open Educational Resources @ Leeward CC

As part of Convocation activities two weeks ago at Leeward Community College, Wayde Oshiro (Head Librarian) and Leanne Riseley (Educational Media Center Coordinator) shared Leeward’s progress on the Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative. Here is a recap of the session highlights.

OER-@-Leeward-Convocation-2016-10zumjuLink to Presentation

Student Survey

Last Spring (May 2015), 987 Leeward students responded to a survey on their purchasing decisions for required course textbooks. Data from the survey showed that 55% chose NOT to purchase a required textbook for at least one of their classes. 58% said that the cost of required textbooks determined whether they took a course.

Student Benefits

One of the main benefits of OER for students has been to lower or eliminate their textbook costs. In this video, Leeward CC student Christina Kaleiwahea, describes how OER affects her financially as a full-time student who also works full-time.

ChristinaOER” by Christina Kaleiwahea

This semester, 150 Leeward classes (CRNs) were designated as “Textbook Cost: $0” in the class listing. Additionally, a No Cost Textbook page has been added to the campus website so students may easily access the information.

OER Fellowship Program

In Fall 2015, John Morton’s Office of the VP for Community Colleges awarded Leeward CC and Kapiolani CC $100,000 to further our OER campus initiatives. The initiative is being spearheaded by Wayde Oshiro and Leanne Riseley at Leeward and Sunny Pai and Susan Kazama at Kapiolani.

 The funding for the project has been roughly allocated as:

  • 60% capacity building for the Library and EMC/CELTT (student help)
  • 20% professional development
  • 20% incentives and marketing.

One of the outcomes of receiving the funding was it allowed the team to launch the OER Fellowship Program as a way to recognize faculty’s effort in implementing no-cost or OER in their course as well as to provide a small incentive to do so. The purpose of the program is to increase student success by promoting alternatives in educational resources and creating a community that actively encourages, supports, and sustains the use of no-cost or OER.

 The goals of the program are:

  1. Equip instructors with skills so they can properly integrate no-cost or OER materials into their class.
  2. Provide tools for instructors to assess no-cost or OER materials used in their class.
  3. Examine the impact on the use of no-cost or OER materials on students.
  4. Engage instructors in reflecting on the impact of using no-cost or OER materials in their teaching.
  5. Grow the number of OER champions who will advocate for adoption across the UHCC system.

Leeward/Kapiolani faculty and lecturers teaching at least one 3-credit course and those who completed the Go Open, Go Free Using OER Professional Development Training are eligible to participate in this program. The Go Open, Go Free Using OER was offered last summer as a track of Pacific Region Learning Summit (PRLS). It is being offered this semester as a 7-week flipped workshop series and will be offered again as a PRLS 2016 track this coming summer.

Faculty who choose to participate in the OER Fellowship Program work toward achievement or champion level according to this rubric. Upon completion, faculty are awarded technology in recognition of their accomplishment toward using and promoting the use of no-cost or OER.

OER Fellowship Participants at Leeward CC include P. Jayne Bopp (Sociology), Susan Wood (English), Ann Inoshita (English), Lani Uyeno (English), and Michelle Igarashi (English). Kelli Nakamura (Ethnic Studies) is participating from Kapiolani CC. We look forward to adding more to this list in the near future.

As part of the OER Fellowship Program, instructors encouraged their students at the end of the Fall 2015 semester to complete a survey. 125 students from five different Leeward classes participated in the survey. From that, we were able to draw some preliminary findings on the impact of OER on students.

94% said they saved money by the instructor adopting no-cost or OER resources


92% reported having access to a device and the Internet to access the resources.


87% felt the quality of the no-cost resources were just as good as a traditional textbook.


78% felt they did better in the course because they had access to the resources from the first day of class.


The most powerful part of the session was the sharing of reflections by Susan Wood (English), Ann Inoshita (English), and Jayne Bopp (Sociology). They shared their reflections on the impact of using no-cost or OER materials in their teaching. Below is a summary of their sharing:

Susan Wood

Share, what difference, if any, using open educational resources has made to your teaching.

1) I feel more in control of the material. When I used a traditional textbook, I had to teach whatever was in the chapters. I suppose I could have skipped parts of each chapter, but usually I would not since I felt obligated to use as much of the textbook as possible, so the students would feel like they were getting their money’s worth. With OER, I can adapt materials (as permitted by the license) so that I am including only the material I want to include. I have really enjoyed this part the most. 2) It’s much easier to adapt the course material to meet the needs of my students. If I see a number of students are struggling with some concept, I can modify material or add material or even delete material. Several times over this semester, I modified my course content to make it clearer based on feedback from students. While it is also possible to modify content when using a traditional textbook, for me it meant I needed to find some non-textbook resource to fill in where the textbook was not sufficient. 3) In the past, I was not able to use the textbook until at least the 2nd week of the semester since many students did not have the text until then. Now, we jump right into the course material and everyone has access.

Share comments students have made to you about using of OER.

My students have been very positive about OER. One student recently told me he bought a $100 textbook for a class, but they only used one chapter of it during the semester, so he was so glad he didn’t have to buy a book for ENG 100 as well– it offset the cost of the other textbook. This is an email I received from an online student: “I have completed the OER survey and have attached a screen shot from the completion page. I really appreciate not having to purchase a textbook for this class. Any money I can spend on my family instead of on a book I will use for five months is a good thing.” Here is another email: “I just finished the other evaluation! I hope more classes uses these types of textbooks in the near future.”

If you were to share your “lessons learned” with an instructor new to OER, what would they be?

OER is a lot of work up front. Finding resources can be a time-consuming challenge. But, it’s fun, too, to see what materials are available. I really enjoyed collecting resources and modifying them to fit my course. Also, I never found the “perfect” textbook to replace my traditional textbook. After searching for awhile, I ended up mashing up several sources and creating course content that really fits the needs of the class. I think the “mash up” approach is certainly worth considering when investigating OER.

 Ann Inoshita

Share, what difference, if any, using open educational resources has made to your teaching.

Students are able to access course content from the beginning of the semester. In the past, some students purchased their textbook late due to delayed funds. Although I provided a few photocopies of important text material, some students were at a disadvantage since they didn’t have the text. Now, there is equal opportunity learning because all students, regardless of their funds, are able to access the OER sources.

Share comments students have made to you about using of OER.

Students love OER. They love accessing course materials via “Weekly Modules” and reading the course content there instead of purchasing a book.

If you were to share your “lessons learned” with an instructor new to OER, what would they be?

Start early when finding OER sources. It takes time to find what you need for your course.

Jayne Bopp

Share, what difference, if any, using open educational resources has made to your teaching.

Its given me more freedom and control over my course materials.  I like not having to put in book orders each semester and not having to deal with the numerous frustrations that can come from working with textbook companies.

Share comments students have made to you about using of OER.

Many students are extremely grateful. Lots of them say that they wish their other classes were OER.

If you were to share your “lessons learned” with an instructor new to OER, what would they be?

Like any other kind of new “technology” the area of OER is rapidly developing. Just because you canʻt find good resources for some classes right now, donʻt give up.  Keep checking each semester. I think that soon most fields and disciplines will have access to quality OER materials.

Posted by Leanne in About, Faculty Leaders, Leeward, OER, Zero Textbook Cost

Leeward CC students speak out about OER


This past May, Leeward CC students were surveyed on textbook costs. 987 students took the survey.

  • 55% of students said they decided not to buy a required textbook for a course.
  • 58% of students reported the cost of textbooks determined whether they took a course.

One of the primary reasons instructors adopt OER is to benefit their students. The videos below feature Christina Kaleiwahea and Rhonda Craig, both Leeward CC students who share the student perspective on how the high cost of textbooks affect them.


OER by Rhonda Craig” of Leeward CC is licensed under CC BY 4.0


OER by Christina Kaleiwahea” of Leeward CC is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Posted by Leanne in OER, Student

Leeward CC’s First Open Educational Resources ENG 100 Online Course

Susan Wood

Susan Wood

Susan Wood, Professor CC of English, was the first at Leeward CC and in the UHCC system to create an open, online course for English 100: Composition I, which provides students with zero textbook cost, and allows anyone to re-use and re-mix her materials under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license. With assistance from the Leeward CC Library, Susan found and used Open Educational Resources (OER) and her own content for the content modules. Rachael Inake, from the Educational Media Center worked with Susan in planning and developing the content modules, putting the content in a weekly modules format using Google Sites, and publishing it as a template site for other Leeward CC ENG 100 instructors (or anyone) to re-use and re-mix under the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license. Susan also created a companion Laulima course site for instructors to copy to use with the weekly modules site. Susan and Rachael also created an Instructor’s Guide to help instructors put the course together.

The following is a guest post from Susan Wood.


I was fortunate to be granted a sabbatical for Spring 2015. Part of the project that I proposed in my sabbatical application was to create an online ENG 100 course using Google Apps for Education that would be available for lecturers (or anyone) to use if they were assigned to teach an online ENG 100. After that project was approved, I was approached by both Kay Caldwell and Leanne Riseley and asked to consider creating the course using Open Educational Resources (OER). I knew very little about OER but have always used textbook cost as a major factor when choosing a textbook, so I decided it would be a worthwhile addition to the project. I did not realize at that point what an adventure I would have in the world of OER.

My first exposure to OER was a video on the Leeward CC Open Educational Resources Guide. In the video, which has since been replaced by Jayne Bopp’s wonderful video, an instructor in social sciences effusively talked about how she decided textbooks were too expensive for her students, so she found a fantastic OER textbook, pasted the link to the textbook into her course website, and proceeded to teach her course from this free resource. She made it sound so easy… all I needed to do was find the perfect OER textbook for ENG 100 and I would be on my way!

However, after weeks of searching and reading, I realized that there was no perfect ENG 100 textbook. I did find some OER ENG 100 textbooks, but some were really long and cumbersome, some were poorly written (ironic, I know), some didn’t cover the range of material we cover in ENG 100, and some were incomplete. It was then I realized I would have to create the course using a re-mix of content from several of the textbooks.

My next step was to pick the best of the content from the textbooks I found. I bookmarked the three textbooks that had material that I thought would best fit in a Leeward CC ENG 100 course, and then I set to work. I wrote an outline of the course and then proceeded to search through the OER textbooks and pull materials that I then revised as needed to fit the course objectives.

Collecting course content was a mostly enjoyable process because I got to explore what others teach in first-year writing courses. It was also professionally invigorating to read through so many different approaches to teaching first-year writing. At times, though, collecting content was frustrating when I could not find what I needed– so I had to create some content myself. Luckily, I had Rachael Inake to help me with the technical aspects of creating Google Slides, YouTube videos, and PowToons, and I was able to use these tools and more to create content. All in all, the experience of choosing, re-mixing, and creating OER was a very positive one.

The ENG 100 course is now finished and I am very pleased with how it turned out. I am excited to use the course for the first time this summer and will use it again in the Fall. I am also really excited that my students don’t have to buy a textbook. In past semesters, some students would go for weeks or even the entire semester without a textbook because they could not afford all of the textbooks for all of their courses. I am thrilled that I can now offer a course that does not burden students with the cost of a textbook. OER makes that possible.


Below are a few screenshots of the ENG 100 OER course materials.

Screenshot of week 7’s module

Screenshot of ENG 100 Laulima site

Screenshot of ENG 100 Laulima site

Screenshot of the ENG 100 OER Instructor’s Guide

Screenshot of the ENG 100 OER Instructor’s Guide

Susan’s materials available for accessing, copying, re-mixing, and re-using, under the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license:

We are applaud Susan’s hard work and effort in creating this valuable resource for Leeward CC faculty/lecturers and students, the UH system, and the OER community!

Posted by Leanne in Faculty Leaders

Faculty Leaders: P. Jayne Bopp, Instructor in Sociology at Leeward CC

jayne_screenJayne Bopp has been teaching SOC 100, Survey of Sociology at Leeward CC with an Open Educational Textbook for the last two years.

This video highlights how Jayne got started using OER and the results she has experienced since she has adopted OER in her classroom. She also shares how students are grateful and appreciative at not having to spend so much money on a textbook.

The following is a special guest blog post by P. Jayne Bopp.

I’ve always been interested in making books affordable and accessible for my students.  However even when I worked with publishers to customize books the costs never seemed reasonable and students usually couldn’t sell them back.  Today publishers constantly update editions and the bookstore can only order the newest versions.  I didn’t like being forced to order a new version, especially when it hadn’t even been published yet. When I tried sticking with older editions it became apparent that not all students have access to Amazon and shipping for low costs books can often take several weeks.

The homogenization of information started to put me off as well.  I couldn’t help noticing that the introductory textbooks in my field, regardless of the publisher were virtually identical, even down to the chapter topics. I started to feel as if the textbook was a necessary evil.  Having a book was required to legitimize the class and a starting point for learning but I always made the information my own by adapting it to my teaching style and using examples from Hawaii.  I am also not interested in having publishing companies design, implement and grade my students’ assignments; I prefer a more hands on approach.

In the midst of experiencing these frustrations I remembered an email I had gotten a year earlier about free open source textbooks.  I dug it out and lo and behold Open Stax College had, among other things an excellent peer reviewed Introduction to Sociology textbook.  All I had to do was paste the URL into my syllabus and students could view the book online, download it and even print it for free.   I tested the book with online students over the summer and it was it hit.

Like any time we use a new textbook or redesign a course there is a lot of initial work however, its well worth it.  Students have access to the required course materials from day one and are enormously grateful for the free textbook.  There is a lot more accountability because students have no excuses for not having a book.  So far, with the help our Librarians I’ve managed to make four of my classes completely OER.   Now I don’t have to fill out those pesky book order forms each semester!

Posted by Leanne in Faculty Leaders, OER, Zero Textbook Cost