OER Stories 1
Enhancing the classroom experience
Hi, my name is Robin Araniva and I am Associate Faculty in Science at Everett Community College. I am interested in including online educational resources in my Environmental Science and Marine Science courses. My goal is to identify relevant, local, free resources to supplement the course material and make them available to students in Canvas. I would like to transition away from textbooks and towards resources that are readily accessible so that my students feel empowered to continue using these tools to better understand their world and answer their questions as they become life-long learners and informed citizens.
Producing your own OER content & empowering students
Hello! I am Mike Elmore and I teach political science at Tacoma Community College. I began working with open education pedagogy this year as a way to engage students as well as create content for an OER based Introduction to Political Science course we are developing for Project Kaleidoscope. When I started working with Project Kaleidoscope, I found that a really comprehensive OER textbook currently does not exist. So, I began exploring the possibilities of creating one with student contributions. I could relate to you the benefits and satisfaction I receive from incorporating students into a writing process. But, I believe their words are more powerful. So, I invite you to listen to a couple of students who have participated in the writing process: Bao Dang and Joanne Eller. They relate incredibly persuasive stories of their learning experiences with OER. Watching these two students as well as others blossom as scholars reminds me why I teach.
IT & keeping current
Hello, my name is Alex Zimmerman,
I am a one of the few “Staculty” members at Everett Community College. This means I am a full time IT Specialist by day and part-time faculty member by night. Currently I am writing a book for my class IT 101 – Introduction to Information Technology. This class is a overview of various different topics ranging from computer hardware to networking and programming! Every week has a new subject, linking to what was taught the week before. Since the class content is so broad, I didn’t want to have my students pick up a book for each subject. Finding a ready-made book to fit all the class subjects was not possible, the few I did find for specific subjects weren’t able to keep current. As Information Technology is a very fast paced industry most of these books are borderline obsolete by the time they are published. The “Survey of Computing” book is currently in a working “beta” and I have tentative final release scheduled at the end of fall quarter 2014. It is my hope to make this book free to all those that want it, under the Creative Commons ShareAlike license to reuse/update/modify as they see fit so they may also make their own custom courses maximizing their teaching effectiveness.
Increasing student access to education
Christie Fierro , a faculty member at Tacoma Community College (TCC), teaches public speaking. Her decision to redesign her courses using OER was what she’d call an educational emergency. She was teaching a summer communication class and discovered that only three students in the course had the textbook. In Tacoma, 70% of the people in the area are living in extreme poverty. Fortunately, TCC has a dedicated OER director who was able to help Christie locate the resources needed for her course.
Offering the course with strictly OER materials really altered the class discussion on the first day. Most students land in Christie’s class because it’s required for their major, not because they’re excited about public speaking. By starting her class with a discussion about the choice to use OER rather than expensive textbooks the students could see right away the commitment she has to their success.
Free, relevant & customizable
I am Sandra Lepper, and I teach Understanding World Art: which is an art appreciation course that is also a diversity credit. This course is fairly unusual in that it combines basic visual concepts with global images and ideas, and I always had a difficult time finding an appropriate and useful text. With OER I have now developed a combination of my own written and visual materials, with sources ranging from the Thematic Essays at the Metropolitan Museum to films, videos of artists, and other internet sources (like the Washington Archaeology and Historic Preservation site) and not only included these inside their Canvas course but made them available in a Google site they can access once they are registered. This way our material is 1) customized to our course and location 2) accessible in a variety of formats and technology through the Google site and 3) free! So far they love it! They especially like the custom videos I made describing how to do each assignment and showing examples. Happy, and more successful students this year
A student perspective: Saving money, feeling engaged
JoAnne Eller is a student at Tacoma Community College. Textbook costs had been shocking to her and budgeting for texts hadn’t been something she considered. OER has allowed her to put more money toward her general education. JoAnne also feels that a variety of OER content allows for a wider range of perspectives free from the politics of big publishing companies. Her participation in learning and contributing to OER has been empowering. She was able to engage with learning on a whole new level.
OER and Adult Basic Education
Hi, my name is Jennifer Jennings, and I have been an instructor in the Basic Education department for about twelve years. I teach GED(R) preparation and pre-college transition classes for students who are interested in earning a high school credential for employment or for going on to college programs, many of whom are non-native speakers. I’ve been a part of the Textbook Alternative Committee since its beginning and use open source materials as a way to save my students money as well as customize the content I want for my curriculum. Open source materials appeal to my students because they can access them remotely from their computers and phones, and the various types of material mean that student with different styles of learning are better served.
Benefits of moving away from textbooks
Hello all those interested in OER, my name is Shelli Jordan-Zirkle and I teach U.S. History courses at Everett Community College for the ORCA program as well as main campus classes. My goal has been to save students from purchasing expensive history textbooks that don’t exactly teach students the skills I want them to get out of history classes. Instead of using textbooks that summarize time periods, I use many primary sources (documents from the time) that students read and respond to. This enhances critical thinking skills that are central to my course learning objectives. Instead of reading about historical time periods in a textbook, students get to do history with the actual sources and artifacts from each time period. It saves students money and enhances critical thinking.
The future of OER & Mathematics
Mike Nevins is a full-time mathematics instructor at Everett Community College. He created his own open course materials using a variety of open resources including Tyler Wallace’s algebra textbook and wamap. The response he’s received from students so far has been great. He plans to develop more open course materials for Math 91 and 92 during an upcoming sabbatical. His dream is that five to ten years out all developmental math courses will feature open educational resources. Mike’s motivated by stories students have shared that illustrate the part he plays in developing autonomous learners. OER to Mike represents equal access to everyone, and freedom – freedom to push away from the norm, from textbook constraints and traditional pedagogy.