It’s Time for Open Educational Resources

“Yet, in far too many cases, we are still requiring very expensive textbooks in our classes. Over the degree program, students are expending thousands of dollars for texts that many sell back to the bookstore for less than half of their original value. Much of the material embedded in the texts is either already available freely online or could be assembled by the instructor from open-access sources. At the same time, many instructors still complain that the text does not precisely fit their needs; they skip chapters and assign additional readings to update the material in the text that is already one or two years out of date before the book hits the students’ desks. Why not just create your own texts and update them as often as is needed?

During the first three semesters in COVID times, awareness of open educational resources (OER) has surged among faculty members. Faculty members who put their classes online through remote learning discovered more fully the range and timeliness of relevant materials that are available online. In a study by Bay View Analytics, sponsored by the William and Flora Hewitt Foundation, it was found that faculty who adopted OER rated their materials superior to the commercial alternatives, and while the percentage of required OER materials did not increase, the percentage of supplemental OER materials did….”

UCF Keeping ‘Opt-In’ Model for Digital Course Materials | University of Central Florida News

“The University of Central Florida and its supplier of textbooks and other course materials, Barnes & Noble College, offer a program called First Day, which provides discounted digital course materials to students enrolled in many courses. This semester, students who participated in this program saved an average of 48%.

Currently, UCF students must “opt-in” to participate in this program. Last year, state law changed to allow universities to choose either an “opt-in” or “opt-out” model for these discounted course materials. Under an opt-out model, students would automatically be enrolled in this program and would have to manually opt-out to avoid charges being added to their student accounts.

UCF is not changing its current opt-in model. The opt-in model requires students to manually choose to participate in the program and receive discounted course materials….”

Faculty Survey on OER: Perceptions, Behaviors, and Implications for Library Practice

Abstract:  INTRODUCTION The Mary Couts Burnett Library at Texas Christian University (TCU) seeks to learn more about university faculty members’ perceptions and behaviors related to open educational resources (OER), and to identify one or more initiatives to increase adoption of OER at the university. METHODS The researchers sent a survey to all university faculty using Qualtrics™, and 104 persons responded. The survey used a combination of multiple-choice and free-text questions, and covered OER adoption and creation by faculty members, their perceptions of OER, and recommendations related to possible initiatives to increase OER interest. RESULTS Among respondents, almost half used OER either currently or in the past, while a fifth created their own OER. When comparing OER to traditional textbooks in terms of being scholarly, the majority indicated that OER and traditional textbooks were about the same level, but a quarter of faculty indicated that traditional textbooks were more scholarly. When asked about initiatives the library could pursue to increase faculty OER creation, the leading responses included financial support of faculty using OER, along with training opportunities. DISCUSSION The researchers were pleased to see that many faculty have used OER either currently or in the past, and that many had positive views surrounding OER. The researchers now have data that support the establishment of OER initiatives. CONCLUSION The survey informs the TCU Library and academic libraries in general. Two initiatives that libraries should consider are establishing an OER training program for faculty and developing a grant program to support faculty members who are adopting or creating OER. Libraries should collaborate with other units on campus such as the center for teaching excellence or the faculty senate.

 

Faculty Survey on OER: Perceptions, Behaviors, and Implications for Library Practice

Abstract:  INTRODUCTION The Mary Couts Burnett Library at Texas Christian University (TCU) seeks to learn more about university faculty members’ perceptions and behaviors related to open educational resources (OER), and to identify one or more initiatives to increase adoption of OER at the university. METHODS The researchers sent a survey to all university faculty using Qualtrics™, and 104 persons responded. The survey used a combination of multiple-choice and free-text questions, and covered OER adoption and creation by faculty members, their perceptions of OER, and recommendations related to possible initiatives to increase OER interest. RESULTS Among respondents, almost half used OER either currently or in the past, while a fifth created their own OER. When comparing OER to traditional textbooks in terms of being scholarly, the majority indicated that OER and traditional textbooks were about the same level, but a quarter of faculty indicated that traditional textbooks were more scholarly. When asked about initiatives the library could pursue to increase faculty OER creation, the leading responses included financial support of faculty using OER, along with training opportunities. DISCUSSION The researchers were pleased to see that many faculty have used OER either currently or in the past, and that many had positive views surrounding OER. The researchers now have data that support the establishment of OER initiatives. CONCLUSION The survey informs the TCU Library and academic libraries in general. Two initiatives that libraries should consider are establishing an OER training program for faculty and developing a grant program to support faculty members who are adopting or creating OER. Libraries should collaborate with other units on campus such as the center for teaching excellence or the faculty senate.

 

LSU librarians selected by LOUIS to create the Interactive OER for Dual Enrollment program | LSU Libraries News & Notes

“Four LSU librarians have been selected by LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network to join a cohort of 25 librarians from across the state to work alongside instructional designers in order to foster the creation of the Interactive Open Education Resources (OER) for Dual Enrollment program, which will aim to improve the quality of the dual-enrollment program and expand its availability for more high school students. This program was made viable by a two-million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Open Textbooks Pilot program….”

UW universities lowering costs by using public domain textbooks

“UW-Eau Claire is attempting to transform the cost of higher education by offering textbooks and other teaching materials for free.

Materials required for college courses often run students hundreds of dollars per semester. The university hopes to help students with the cost of a degree using open educational resources, or OER….”

There’s big problems with the market for academic ebooks | Wonkhe

For Rachel Bickley, market pressure alone cannot solve the problems in the market for academic ebooks.

In the time since a small group of academic librarians launched the #ebooksos campaign with an Open Letter asking for an investigation into the academic ebook publishing industry, we have faced some questioning of our actions.

In spite of the letter having attracted, at the time of writing, signatures from over 3800 librarians, lecturers, students, heads of services, university senior managers and two vice chancellors, indicating that the cost and availability of ebooks is a significant concern across the sector, there have still been suggestions that perhaps we could sit down and discuss the issues with the publishers instead.

However, these issues are not new. The pandemic has brought the lack of availability of ebooks for institutional access, and the astronomical prices and restrictive licences under which those which are available can be procured, into sharp focus, but librarians have been dealing with this situation for a long time. Dialogue with publishers has been attempted, but it went nowhere useful. The investigation route was not a knee-jerk reaction to being unable to obtain the resources that we need for our students; it was the only option that those of us who set up the campaign could see remaining.

[…]

Fixing the Broken Textbook Market, Third Edition | U.S. PIRG

“Textbooks are too expensive, and have been for a very long time. Little competition in the college publishing industry- and therefore little consumer choice – has contributed to the cost of course materials increasing at three times the rate of inflation since the 1970s. While the curve has plateaued the past couple of years, there has been little change in student experience. Students have continued to skip buying assigned course materials due to cost at similar rates. 

Then COVID-19 happened. To protect public health, educators adjusted their courses for emergency remote instruction at breakneck speed. In the spring, some publishers and education technology companies offered temporary free access to online books and homework platforms for the final few months of the spring term, but the return of full-price materials in the summer coincided with the second wave of COVID-19. An economic crisis has dovetailed the public health crisis, where youth unemployment in the summer of 2020 was double that of summer 2019 and over 8 percent higher than the general population. Any member of the campus community can tell you that the pandemic has exacerbated existing weaknesses within higher education – but how does textbook affordability factor into this difficult landscape for teaching and learning?

This national survey of more than 5,000 college students was taken in September 2020, and builds on similar surveys from 2013 and 2019. It offers a snapshot in time of student experiences, particularly those at four-year institutions, in the first full semester of the pandemic and points out more long-term problems that institutions and national leaders must work to solve. …”

Textbook Task Force takes on the high costs of learning materials | Temple Now

“That sentiment echoes what Temple Student Government (TSG) found in a survey it conducted last fall on textbook affordability. In response to the prompt: “Indicate how course materials have affected you this [fall 2020] semester,” 41% of the respondents replied that they worked extra hours at their job to afford course materials, 24% said they chose classes and sections based on the cost of the learning materials and 28% had to prioritize the purchase of access code content over other learning materials. In their comments, students reported skipping meals and not paying bills in order to pay for course materials, while others admitted to dropping a class because they could not afford the textbook.

With students facing financial challenges compounded by the pandemic, including lower family earnings or lost part-time job wages, etc., the high cost of textbooks is more prohibitive than ever. That’s why a group of faculty and administrators, known as the Textbook Task Force , have doubled down on their efforts to ease that financial strain. 

The task force was organized by Executive Vice President and Provost JoAnne A. Epps in 2019 and is charged with developings strategies for creating more awareness among faculty about textbook affordability challenges students face and how faculty can seek out and adopt open and zero-cost learning materials….”

 

Welcome to Open Syllabus 2.5

“Today we’re releasing a big update to Open Syllabus data and websites. Here’s a rundown:

The Co-Assignment Galaxy

The Galaxy has received a massive upgrade in scale and functionality. The previous version mapped 164,000 titles and could display 30,000 at a time. The new version maps 1.1 million titles and can display 500,000 at a time. The resolution of fields and subfields is vastly improved as a result….

OER Metrics

OER Metrics is a new subsite for investigating trends and adoption patterns for openly-licensed books and textbooks (i.e., Open Educational Resources). It provides the first tools for mapping the demand side of the OER ecosystem and–we hope–can help inform adoption decisions by instructors and programs and investment decisions by authors, publishers, and funders….”

Virginia Tech Publishing partners with international association to publish engineering open textbook | Virginia Tech Daily | Virginia Tech

“In February 2021, The University Libraries’ Virginia Tech Publishing and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) will publish “Introduction to Biosystems Engineering,” an open textbook for university-level introductory courses in biosystems engineering….”

‘Price gouging from Covid’: student ebooks costing up to 500% more than in print | Higher education | The Guardian

“Librarians at UK universities say students’ reading lists for this term are being torn up because of publishers’ “eye-watering” increases to ebook prices, and some students are now reading what is available or affordable, rather than what their tutors think is best for their course.

With thousands of students studying in their bedrooms at home because of the pandemic, providing access to textbooks and research books online has become crucial. However, librarians say academic publishers are failing to offer electronic versions of many books, seen as critical to degree courses during the pandemic. And, they say, universities frequently cannot afford to buy the ebooks available, for which they can be charged more than five times as much as the printed version, often running into hundreds of pounds a copy, sometimes for one user at a time.

 

Nearly 3,000 librarians, academics and students have now signed an open letter calling for a public investigation into the “unaffordable, unsustainable and inaccessible” academic ebook market….”

LSU Libraries hosts open access e-textbook for Spanish 2155 | LSU Libraries News & Notes

“This past fall, students in Dr. Carmela Mattza’s Spanish 2155 course were able to access their course textbook free of cost from LSU Digital Commons. Mattza, an associate professor of Spanish, published her e-textbook Variedades: Intermediate/Advanced Spanish Conversation in the University’s institutional repository, which is hosted by LSU Libraries. Articles and books in LSU Digital Commons are open access, which means they are available to everyone at no cost….”

LSU Libraries hosts open access e-textbook for Spanish 2155 | LSU Libraries News & Notes

“This past fall, students in Dr. Carmela Mattza’s Spanish 2155 course were able to access their course textbook free of cost from LSU Digital Commons. Mattza, an associate professor of Spanish, published her e-textbook Variedades: Intermediate/Advanced Spanish Conversation in the University’s institutional repository, which is hosted by LSU Libraries. Articles and books in LSU Digital Commons are open access, which means they are available to everyone at no cost….”