JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University students will begin to see big savings in textbook and course material costs this fall, thanks to the university’s Open Educational Resources (OER) Awards program.
ETSU’s Charles C. Sherrod Library and Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) awarded $30,000 to faculty and departments as part of the 2018-2019 OER Awards Program. The awards recognized faculty who will be replacing costly educational materials in their courses with free, online resources during the 2019-2020 academic year. Faculty and departments will transform 17 courses (39 sections) to use freely available materials, resulting in 1,700 students saving $200,000, with the potential for future savings.
OERs are free, online teaching and learning materials that are licensed to allow faculty flexibility to retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute them as they see best meets the needs of their classes. OERs can include a wide range of materials, such as assessments, assignments, books, case studies, simulations, tutorials and textbooks. Faculty may adapt any of these materials into their courses, create their own, or adopt an Open Textbook instead of requiring textbooks from major publishers.
The program awarded three departments (Art and Design, Digital Media, and Psychology) and eleven faculty from five different colleges (Arts and Sciences, Clemmer, Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, Business and Technology, and Nursing). Five of the awardees are adapting – significantly changing materials – or creating new materials for their courses. These educational resources will be available online for other institutions to use in ETSU’s institutional repository, Digital Commons@East Tennessee State University.
The nudge to explore and incentivize more open and affordable resources comes directly from ETSU students. Sherrod Library’s Student Advisory Council voted to use funding from the student library fee to pay for two cycles of the awards program (2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic years). The Student Government Association (SGA) also supports the effort.
“Establishing OERs in the ETSU community is essential given the educational resource oligopoly and the prices set by it,” said Aamir Shaikh, 2019-20 president of the SGA. “And faculty who go the extra mile in integrating OERs into their curriculums for the economic benefit of their students should be celebrated.”
In addition to the award money, faculty participating in the program meet in learning communities to learn more about trends and issues in Open Education and receive support from each other and the program coordinators in finding and implementing OERs.
“We get together and talk about copyright, creative commons licensing, accessibility, finding slides and quiz banks and other things related to implementing OERs,” says Digital Scholarship Librarian Ashley Sergiadis, one of the coordinators of the program.
Adds Phil Smith, teaching and learning specialist at the CTE, “It is exciting to work with so many faculty genuinely interested in helping their students financially and also really enhancing the quality of their classes. Using new course materials – especially OERs, which allow you to tailor how you use them – gets you thinking about other innovative ways to engage and motivate students.”
Applications are now open for the 2019-2020 cycle for faculty or departments intending on using OERs in their courses beginning fall 2019. For more information on applying for an ETSU OER Award, visit https://libraries.etsu.edu/research/oer/award.For the full list of this year’s recipients, visit https://libraries.etsu.edu/research/oer/award/1819.