Next steps for OER at UH

Over the last few years, Sara Rutter has done a fantastic job promoting OER adoption at the Manoa campus and supporting the OER community across the UH system. The UH community colleges have done amazing work themselves, with Leeward Community College and Kapiolani Community College leading the way with OER/Zero-cost textbooks, OER Fellowship programs, and broad creation/adoption of OER by instructors and faculty at their campuses.

We’ve had success at the Manoa campus as well, with the Department of Physics and Astronomy now a year-and-a-half into their adoption of the OpenStax Physics textbook in their PHYS 151 and PHYS 152 courses. Other adoptions of OER to replace costly commercial textbooks are imminent, but it will take a great deal of work to get there.

Creative Commons staff 2013

Although I’ve been in the role for several weeks now, I’d like to officially announce that I am now the OER Technologist for the UH Manoa Outreach College. I come into this role from the Distance Course Design and Consulting (DCDC) Group, an innovative digital design arm of the College of Education at UH Manoa, where I managed online program and course design projects. Before that, I worked for Creative Commons (CC), the global non-profit whose licenses have liberated over a billion digital works through open copyright. At CC I supported hundreds of institutions with open licensing their educational content as OER, and fell more deeply in love with free software and open practices.

I have big plans for OER at Manoa and throughout the system. Most of my time will be spent between advocacy and platform, meaning that I will be championing the use of OER in courses, and working on an OER platform for the UH system. One of the incredible benefits to working with OER is that they can be adopted, revised, remixed, and shared with others, but unfortunately, useful technology for OER revision hasn’t matured as well as the community would like. I am now working with UH ITS to spin up an instance of the WordPress-based publishing platform called Pressbooks.

Global leaders in the OER space such as BC Campus, OPEN SUNY, and Lumen Learning have all found success using Pressbooks, and I have high hopes for this platform and it’s ability to allow faculty to import OER and make it their own.

BC Campus Physiology and Anatomy open textbook

There will also be some changed to the oer.hawaii.edu website, but the core pieces will stay the same. The UH OER Repository will continue to accept OER submissions and ratings, and this blog isn’t going anywhere.

For those of you with whom I have already worked, I look forward to collaborating further. And if we have not yet met, I look forward to working with you for the first time 🙂

Billy Meinke headshot


Billy Meinke


Posted by Billy Meinke in OER, UH Manoa

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

Bureau of Labor Statistics: interactive graph shows 87.5% cost increase for college textbooks 2006-2016

The Economics Daily of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has an informative interactive graph of consumer price indexes for tuition and school frees from January 2006-July 2016.  While tuition and fees have risen 63 percent, college textbooks have risen 87.5%. See the graph and data at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/college-tuition-and-fees-increase-63-percent-since-january-2006.htm

Posted by Sara Rutter in OER

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

Go Open, Go Free Using OER begins May 16 at Leeward

For a second year in a row, the Leeward CC Educational Media Center and the Library are facilitating a week long OER training at the annual Pacific Region Learning Summit on Leeward’s Pearl City campus .  The Go Open, Go Free Using OER track provides faculty with an intensive introduction to OER. Participants learn the benefits of adopting OERs, where to find them, how to license and attribute them, and how to share OERs in the UH OER repository. Throughout the week and beyond, individualized support is provided by Leeward instructional designers and librarians.

The ability to reduce higher education costs for students continues to be the main motivating factor for Leeward CC faculty switching from expensive commercial publisher materials to OERs.  In the process of transitioning to OER, faculty discover the benefits to adoption can go far beyond just the cost savings. The flexibility inherent in OERs offers them an opportunity to transform their teaching and free themselves from the restrictions and limitations of the traditional textbook model. This is the true power and greatest potential of the OER movement today.

Posted by Wayde Oshiro in Leeward, OER

Textbook Cost: $0 FAQ

Wayde Oshiro head librarian of Leeward Community College posted a great FAQ about the Textbook Cost: $0 note that you may see in some campus Class Availability lists. Leeward, Kapiolani, and Honoulu Community Colleges are posting this information for courses that faculty have identified as Textbook Cost: $0. This is great information for students and is one piece in making higher education more affordable for students.

Posted by Sara Rutter in OER

TechLogic OER talks Thursday March 31

Here is the link to Billy Meinke’s slides for his presentation Creative Commons, the Web, & how OER are the way forward, https://www.bit.ly/techlogic-OER. Slides for Sara Rutter’s talk, A Faculty Survival Guide to Open Educational Resources are on slideshare at http://go.hawaii.edu/PL. Both talks were part of the Center for Teaching Excellence’s TechLogic 2016 programming.

Posted by Sara Rutter in OER

OER and Student Success

Recent studies show that Open Educational Resources (OER) may have an impact on student success. The UHCC has adopted OER as a strategy to support student success by reducing educational costs for students. In step with national trends, a Spring 2015 survey of students at Leeward CC revealed that fifty-five percent of the 987 respondents had chosen, at least once, not to purchase a required textbook due to cost. A 2014 Babson OER report showed that cost is the least important factor when faculty select teaching resources; proven efficacy is the most important factor for faculty.  The report also shows that 73.4% of the faculty feel OER is either superior or equivalent in quality to traditional resources.  Based on recent studies, it appears that OERs have a positive impact on student completion, retention, and achievement.

Kapiolani CC Librarians, Susan Kazama and Sunyeen Pai, and Leeward CC Librarian, Wayde Oshiro, shared the results of recent studies examining the impact of OER and student success with attendees at the 7th Hawaii Strategy Institute on March 4-5 at Kapiolani Community College.   A list of the referenced studies is available at the end of the presentation.

Open Educational Resources and Student Success


Posted by Wayde Oshiro in Kapiolani, Leeward, OER, Zero Textbook Cost