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!