OER stands for Open Educational Resources, and is a term that refers to any educational resources that are typically:
Open Textbook is a specific type of OER that is designed to be a free or low cost substitute for a traditional textbook.
1. Define your need:
3. Identify & Evaluate:
A: There is always a print option for OER. Sometimes the OER platform itself will offer a printed and bound textbook which can be ordered directly from the website, or purchase can be brokered through the Kirkwood Bookstore, as a traditional textbook would be. Because students are mostly only paying for the actual print and distribution costs, the price of the printed OER will still be substantially lower than that of a traditional textbook.
If a printed copy isn't available, or if you are using your own compilation of OER (and/or some copyrighted materials that you've determined fall under fair use), the Kirkwood Bookstore will work with you to create a course pack for your students to purchase at the Bookstore, again, at a substantially lower cost than a traditional textbook.
A: There are a few different responses to this concern
A: Many open resources do provide test banks (and power points, and other supplementals we're used to getting from a publisher). To answer the question about "protected resources" we went to Nicole Finkbeiner, Associate Director of Institutional Relations, Rice University's OpenStax College:
"In terms of "protected" resources such as test banks, you have to find a way for students to not be able to access these. And, you don't want to openly license these because then you have no way to combat them being published. At Rice University’s OpenStax College, our website is set-up so faculty have to first register for an account and then request faculty access prior to being able to download them. We check every single account to ensure the right official email is used, they are in fact teaching a course where they would need the resources, etc. Sometimes we even call the department chair directly to make sure we should be providing access, so this is definitely a labor-intensive process, but I think it is worth it to protect the resources.
Faculty should also be very careful not to post any protected OER resources in a public environment, such as a website."
A: It's true that adopting open resources in place of a traditionally published textbook involves a change in how you think about your course textbook. Adopting OER involves a feeling of ownership of the course resources that you might not experience with a traditional textbook. Because of the open licensing you are free to update the material as you see fit, as long as it has the appropriate Creative Commons licensing. Due to the open nature of these resources, collaboration with other instructors (within our outside this institution) or with your students to improve the open resources you use is a common occurrence, and means the work of updating is spread across many people instead of sitting solely with you. Yes, it's a shift of perspective, but it's an exciting one, full of potential.
Also: there are a growing number of open textbooks that have the kind of publisher services faculty expect, with regular updates, printed and bound copies available for purchase, test banks and other instructor supplementals. See especially OpenStax and BCCampus.
One misconception about OER is that authors are “giving away” their work, and giving away their ownership of what they’re created. This is a myth for the following reasons:
1. OER authors still retain ownership of their creations. Creative Commons (a form of open licensing) actually gives authors very precise control over how their work may be used and how it should be attributed. In fact OER authors often enjoy more freedom to use, share and adapt their own works than they would under a restrictive license with a publisher.
2. Many OER authors do get paid for their work, they simply don’t receive royalties. Some are paid by their college through a stipend, some are awarded grants through non-profit organizations or government agencies.
Do you have a question about OER? Please ask!
There are many faculty and staff at Kirkwood who use OER, support faculty adoption of OER, or have the knowledge and expertise to help with specific issues. Ask one of your colleagues about OER today:
Kirkwood Community College supports faculty adoption of open resources. Open resources benefit students and faculty by providing course materials at no or low cost, and customize materials to suit the needs of students and faculty. To read more about it see the quick summary of requirements, or read the complete program description.
To see what your fellow faculty OER adopters are talking about, see our OER @ Kirkwood Faculty Blog.