University faculty are invited to learn about reducing the cost of textbooks for their students at an Open Educational Resources (OER) workshop featuring presenters from the Open Textbook Network (OTN) Tuesday, Sept. 24 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. in ARKU 512. Lunch will be provided by Teaching Innovation and Pedagogical Support; please RSVP.
“Faculty are essential allies in the OER movement because they make important decisions about the course materials assigned to their students,” said Elaine Thornton, open education and distance learning librarian. “Their choices impact thousands of students every semester. The campus OER Team is here to offer faculty the knowledge and support they need to adopt open resources.”
According to the Hewlett Foundation, “Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium — digital or otherwise — that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.”
The OTN is “an alliance of higher education institutions committed to improving affordability and academic success through the use of open textbooks.” The Center for Open Education at the University of Minnesota, under the direction of Dr. David Ernst, OTN Executive Director of the OTN, coordinates network activities and resources, including the Open Textbook Library — a catalog of openly licensed textbooks produced and housed at institutions throughout North America. These textbooks are free for anyone to download and use.
Joe Nowakowski, economics professor at Muskingum University, will present the faculty workshop and introduce faculty to open textbooks and the benefits they can bring to student learning, faculty pedagogical practice and college affordability. Participating U of A faculty will be invited to engage with an open textbook in their discipline and have the opportunity to write a brief review. Reviewers will be compensated with a $200 stipend. Committing to review a textbook is not required of attendees, and reviewer slots are limited. Interested reviewers will be chosen based on the availability of open textbooks in applicable subject areas.
When asked about his thoughts on U of A faculty choosing openly licensed resources, ASG President Jared Pinkerton stated, “Open textbooks are as effective, if not more so, than traditionally-published course materials. The only real difference between these books is that one has a [standard] copyright license and the other does not. Listen, we have some stellar professors at the University of Arkansas — some of the best in the world. As students, we take the classes for the professor that is teaching it — not the textbook assigned. A textbook is typically supplemental material to the lectures that we are given. Why not choose material that provides the same impact that you want — but comes at no financial burden to your students?”
Pinkerton also noted the value of being able to always access openly licensed textbooks.
“The benefits of choosing to adopt OERs are numerous,” he said. “The cost of higher education is lowered in a practical way that can be applied to every student going through the course — that alone is huge. With inclusive access codes, we often lose access to the textbook (after paying $100+ for it) at the end of the semester. We can’t even access the material that we paid for after we move into our next courses. This is incredibly detrimental to classes that have prerequisites. For example, I would love to be able to access my Accounting 1 textbook as I move through Accounting 2, but with Inclusive access I can’t. Every professor who adopts an OER significantly benefits the students at this university, and we are extremely grateful to professors who make the transition.”
The workshop is one part of the efforts made by the University Libraries and the Global Campus to promote the use of OER.
“Interest in OER at the University of Arkansas is growing every year,” said Thornton. “We wanted to host the OTN on our campus to offer faculty the opportunity to hear from a fellow educator who has experience using OER. We all need to raise our awareness of the impact the high cost of textbooks has on students throughout the country. Our goal is to encourage more OER adoption on this campus. This workshop provides a great opportunity for faculty to begin thinking about adopting an open textbook before the next call for applicants for the OER Course Materials Conversion Program later this fall.”