Free online resources to be implemented

(PHOTO/ Nilotpal Mukherjee)
Open Educational Resources (OER) will provide free online resources, including textbooks, to students and begin to be implemented in summer Term 5.
(PHOTO/ Nilotpal Mukherjee) Open Educational Resources (OER) will provide free online resources, including textbooks, to students and begin to be implemented in summer Term 5.
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Draven Jackson

Staff Writer

Abby Taylor

Staff Writer

Troy online will be integrating free online resources into Term five classes beginning on May 30, 2017.

OpenStax, a nonprofit organization at Rice University, has developed Open Educational Resources (OER) which provides free course resources to students.

According to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, “Open Educational Resources are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others. OER include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.”

OpenStax creates textbooks by hiring authors who write the books which then undergo a peer-review process to “ensure that it meets the standard scope and sequence requirements for its intended course,” according to Dani Nicholson, director of marketing and communications for OpenStax.

“OpenStax is a nonprofit organization committed to improving student access to quality learning materials, and its open educational resource (OER) textbooks are developed and peer-reviewed by educators to ensure they are readable, accurate, and meet scope and sequence requirements,” according to ecampusnews.com.

“The books are similar to what student currently use in that they meet the standard scope and sequence requirements, but our books are actually created and published by OpenStax,” Nicholson said.

OpenStax raises money through philanthropic foundations to be able to provide resources to students.

“Through our partnerships with philanthropic foundations and our alliance with other educational resource companies, OpenStax is breaking down the most common barriers to learning and empowering students and instructors to succeed,” said openstax.com

Josh Hill, instructional designer for the center for excellence in eTeaching at Troy, said OpenStax provides reliable textbooks.

“OpenStax is spending anywhere between 500,000 and 2 million dollars to have these books (OER books) peer reviewed,” Hill said. “The quality is there just like it is with Pearson or any of these other textbook companies.”

According to OER commons’ website, anyone can upload resources that “compliment the OpenStax textbooks” and share them to be edited by OpenStax. After the resources are edited, they will be uploaded to the OER commons’ website.

Glynn Cavin, associate vice chancellor for Troy online, has been working to incorporate OER with online classes and said that it will take time for OER to be fully integrated.

“It’s going to take time because this is just a sample of some of the courses OpenStax has,” Cavin said.

Cavin said that it will be a long process to have OER books integrated into term classes over the summer because it will change the way classes are setup.

“You can’t just take one book out and put the next book in because lesson plans have to change, tests have to change, homework assignments have to change, the whole course has to change.”

Cavin explained the process of testing OER books throughout term classes.

“We’ve (Troy online employees) got a strategic plan setup where, in those courses where it’ll take a full redesign, we’re going to be able to do two courses a term,” Cavin said. “It takes about four terms worth of time to start from square zero and finish the project where it’s fully done.”

Textbooks currently used that are similar to OER books can be interchanged to speed up the process of integrating OER.

“There’ll be other courses where we find out that ‘hey, that book is pretty close to what I’m using already,’ and we can substitute ours when it’s almost the same book,” Cavin said.

Hill said that integrating OER will help students cut down on costs throughout college.

“We’re losing the best and the brightest students because of affordability issues,” Hill said.

Cavin said that OER will help students be able to take more classes and graduate earlier due to not paying for textbooks.

“It (OER) gets you (students) out a little sooner, gets you to graduation a little sooner, gets to where you’re earning an income a little sooner,” Cavin said. “So you get that benefit that goes past graduation.”

Cavin said that students should take advantage of OER opportunities.

“I think students need to be very aware of this effort that the university’s trying on their (students) behalf,” Cavin said.

OER will be implemented for ENG 2205, GEO 2210, PSY 2200 and COM 6699 during the Term five semester.