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An Open Physics Database for Students Learning with OER

An Open Physics Database for Students Learning with OER

Two main components are crucial for one's success as a physics student: access to proper studying resources, and developing problem solving skills. Beginning in 2015, the UH Mānoa Department of Physics and Astronomy has used the OpenStax College Physics OER textbook for their introductory physics courses, which is freely available online under a Creative Commons license. This eliminates the cost of purchasing a text book, and allows access to course materials for everyone; a print textbook also available to those who wish to purchase it.

About the Database

Particularly in physics, solving problems by working through to the solution is a key process of learning. We are building a physics database (pdb) of practice and assessment problems to pair with the Openstax College Physics textbook. The pdb will be open source, with the goal of providing a quality and free resource to students and faculty that others can extend or build on. Ideally, the problems in pdb will be randomized and mutable so that they are unique in methods of solution and time. This will help foster critical thinking, and reasoning in physics.
One of the main aspects of physics that is truly exciting is how mathematics is used to accurately describe the reality around us. It was Newton who first described gravity with a thought experiment. He considered firing a cannon from a very tall building, and eventually if fired with enough force, the cannon ball was sent into orbit around the Earth. Indeed, it is this falling motion in gravity that holds the planets and our solar system together. The planets are literally falling around one another! Problems in pdb will be algebraic and complementary to the content structure of the OpenStax College Physics text. Students will learn Newton's laws of motion, kinematics, work and energy relations, uniform circular motion, linear momentum and collisions, statics and torque, rotational motion and angular momentum.

Concepts in Physics

To give an example of the knowledge areas the pdb will focus on, here is a classic example of conservation of angular momentum. The concept is demonstrated by an ice skater who controls their speed by extending or pulling in their arms. When the skater pulls in his or her arms, their moment of inertia is decreased.

Thus, in order for angular momentum L to be conserved, if a skater changes shape by extending or lowering their arms, their rotational speed must decrease or increase, respectively.

ΔL = 0

The two videos below demonstrate this phenomenon. Conservation of angular momentum is applied to solving many physics problems. Examples include those involving orbiting planets, gravitation, motion of atoms and subatomic particles.

Chris, a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawaii Manoa, demonstrates conservation of angular momentum.

Mechanical engineering junior at the University of Hawaii Manoa, Ana, demonstrates conservation of angular momentum.

Our goal is to create the physics database of problems to serve as a free resource for students and teachers that are using the Openstax College Physics book. OER can greatly offset costs for students, and we hope to provide a quality problem solving component to match.

Project Leads of the Physics Database of Problems

Dr. Mark Slovak

Mark H. Slovak is an observational astronomer in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, specializing in cataclysmic variables. Involved with STEM/OER initiatives for several decades, he has been recognized for his outstanding undergraduate teaching in both physics and astronomy. An early adopter of OER e-texts for physics (and astronomy), he is currently engaged in efforts to provide additional ancillary OER materials, including a non-proprietary database of physics problems and exercises. He can be reached at mslovak_at-hawaii-dot-edu

Christina Nelson

Christina graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a B.S. in Physics and a minor in computer science in the Spring of 2017. Motivated by a deep passion to learn and discover what nature is telling us through physics, she plans to continue her academic career in graduate school at McGill University, Montreal. Her main interests are experimental particle physics, the fundamental constituents of matter and their interaction, the very early Universe after the Big Bang; quantum mechanics, how matter on the smallest scale relates to matter on the largest, the role of a conscious observer; and computer science applications to physics analysis such as Monte Carlo simulations, machine learning, and algorithm optimization.

For more about this project, see their project page: College Physics

Posted by Christina Nelson in OER, Open Textbooks, Student, UH Manoa
OpenOregon and the $100 Textbook Explained

OpenOregon and the $100 Textbook Explained

Using student cost ($) savings as a primary metric for gauging success in an OER important is common, as it should be. But a word-of-mouth average is only as good as its supporting information and statistics. How did we get this figure?

Amy Hofer at OpenOregon went through the trouble of summarizing the supporting evidence for the widely-used $100 per textbook figure.

She writes:

It would be very handy to have an agreed-upon dollar amount that we could all use when calculating savings that result from OER adoptions. Many institutions rely on an estimate of $100 per student, per course. This post explains why that is a fair estimate.

Amy goes on to describe the different methods various folks have used to calculate student cost savings, being sure to mention that the most useful calculation will depend on which data is actually available. Having a reasonable median figure to refer to when discussing realistic cost savings is key, so this roundup of supporting evidence is greatly appreciated.

Open Oregon logo

Thanks to Amy Hofer and @OpenOregon.

Posted by Billy Meinke in OER, Student, Zero Textbook Cost
1 Year Ago: UHM ASUH Passes Resolution Supporting OER

1 Year Ago: UHM ASUH Passes Resolution Supporting OER

At the end of 2015, two senators of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) submitted a resolution supporting the adoption of OER. As something that sort of flew under the radar for some, I believe it is important to note this milestone and recognize the two undergraduate students who put the resolution forward.

Eugene Lao, Senator of the College of Arts and Sciences

Maggie Hinshaw, ASUH Treasurer

Senate Resolution 14-16: In Support of Incorporating Open Educational Resources into General Education Curricula passed the ASUH senate vote unanimously in December of 2015.

The resolution states that ASUH:

  • Recognizes the rising cost of educational resources as a barrier to college affordability and student success.

  • Recommends that the UHM further utilizes open educational resources and other zero-cost materials for general education courses.

  • Understands that the extensive implementation of OER will help reduce the cost of education, expand the use of internet and digital technologies in education, and transform teaching and learning by fostering academic innovation through increased curriculum options.

As we build our bottom-up OER efforts, having complementary support from the student body will help us carry maintain momentum into the coming years.

Props to Eugene Lao, Senator of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Maggie Hinshaw, current ASUH Treasurer for introducing this important resolution.

You can read the full text of the resolution here.

Posted by Billy Meinke in OER, Student

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

How OER is saving students money at Leeward CC

Leeward CC starts 2016 with 148 Textbook Cost: $0 classes with a combined enrollment of 2,643 students.   Estimated cost savings for students this semester is $131,334.

A Textbook Cost: $0 designation means that an instructor does not require students in their class to purchase textbooks, supplemental course materials, or access codes.  Faculty teaching a Textbook Cost: $0 class incorporate Open Educational Resources (OERs) and other freely available materials to replace costly commercial textbooks.  Leeward CC faculty use OpenStax and other OERs, library-purchased e-books and streaming videos, faculty-authored materials, and a variety of open web resources to use the Textbook Cost: $0 designation.

The money Leeward CC students are saving through the Textbook Cost: $0 program reduces the overall cost of their education. Students can immediately apply any cost savings towards their living expenses and it reduces the need for part-time jobs or having to work more hours.  Students can even use the savings to help pay for additional classes which potentially reduces time to completion.

Since Leeward CC faculty started replacing commercial textbooks with OERs and zero-cost resources students have saved nearly $300,000!

Leeward CC Textbook Cost: $0 Classes

Leeward CC Student Testimonials and Survey Results

Open Educational Resources @ Leeward CC website

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

UH Student Caucus supports OER

Student Caucus delegates Kelly Zakimi (UHM-ASUH) and Trong Dang (Leeward CC) recently attended an All Campus Council of Faculty Senate Chairs (ACCFSC) meeting where they shared news on UH System progress and presented a unified student vision for OER.

View presentation via Google Docs https://goo.gl/4ACX7F

Posted by Wayde Oshiro in OER, Student

Leeward CC students speak out about OER

survey

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.

Rhonda

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

Christina

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

Posted by Leanne in OER, Student