Post by GCC faculty John Gibson
When I started this OER adventure a year ago, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was hoping to minimize textbook costs and improve the currency of course content. But the experience has been all of that – and much more!
When my Business class met the first time last semester, some students cheered and clapped when we talked about their new textbook – which was free – a wonderful change and great way to start the class. So when they opened Canvas for the first time, their textbooks were waiting for them, the chapters arranged as flexible modules. We could start work right away. The students loved the rich all-digital mixture of updated text, images, videos, and simulations (we also have a searchable and printable PDF).
But that was just the beginning of the adventure. I found out later (on a final survey) that OER also opened new doors to learning that weren’t possible before. After the course, most students said they now preferred digital course materials – and that the change was a catalyst which prompted them to think more about how they learned best. Each developed their own personalized approach to mastering the material. And I’m considering more ways that we can learn and create our own digital content in future assignments.
Finally, by going OER, I was exposed to some very inexpensive new courseware/software called Waymaker that personalized the course even more. Interactive assessments were structured and built into the Canvas modules so that the students could learn more by practicing with these assessments (and a chapter dashboard will soon give them a quick visual summary of their progress). The approach certainly challenged my students to think deeper about the material – and discuss it with their fellow students. Waymaker would create personalized study guides for the students who needed them – and it helped me to easily communicate with everyone in a more timely manner. That resulted in some lively conversations about course material beyond what I had ever experienced before.
When we all considered the advantages of an OER approach this past year, it was an easy choice continuing this adventure into the future. You’ll never know what is possible until you look into it!