Life on Campus
Governance & Committees
Update my Info
Services & Programs
Open Educational Resources, as defined by the Hewlett Foundation, 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.
Students can access OERs for zero cost, download and keep a digital copy, and print or purchase a low-cost hardcopy. Educators can curate, tailor, and share OERs to perfectly suit their curriculum and share their innovations freely. Authors can disseminate their work to a worldwide audience while still receiving attribution. Creative Commons Licensing facilitates flexibility in usage of OER. David Wiley created a framework (5Rs) that allows authors to retain copyright while encouraging/allowing reuse, revision, remixing, or redistribution.
There is significant financial benefit to students and university. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from January 2006 to July 2016 the Consumer Price Index for college tuition and fees increased 63 percent, compared with an increase of 21 percent for all items. Over that period, consumer prices for college textbooks increased 88 percent. The US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) reported that students spend average of about $1200 annual for textbooks, about 65% of students said that they had decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive, and 48% of students said that the cost of textbooks impacted how many/which classes they took each semester. Research shows open textbooks, compared to traditional texts, have equal or better student performance/learning outcomes and equal or improved student retention rates/graduation rates.
An Open Ed Group summary of 25 studies focused on efficacy, perceptions, or both efficacy and perception stated that “a general finding seems to be that roughly half of teachers and students find OER to be comparable to traditional resources, a sizeable minority believe they are superior, and a smaller minority find them inferior.” Studies conducted at Virginia State University (Business) and Houston Community College (Psychology) found that students who used open textbooks tended to have higher grades and lower withdrawal rates than their peers who used traditional textbooks
Open textbook collections have peer reviewed text books freely available for use in a class. The University of Minnesota Open Textbook Library has over 300 open texts. OpenStax, a non-profit publisher of open textbooks, offers a collection of about 30 online texts with option to acquire print copies at low cost. These are customizable to institutional preferences in collaboration with OpenStax. Over 840 institutions worldwide are using OpenStax.
For more information, visit the WCSU Libraries’ Open Education Resources Guide or contact your WCSU librarian.
UNESCO Image used under Creative Commons License
And now let’s get started!
The first category in the scorecard is Course Overview and Information. The ten practices in this category are related to ensuring that learners in your online course have the information that they need – from day 1 of the course (or before) – to begin the learning experience.
“Recommendation #1. Course includes Welcome and Getting Started content.
Explanation: By welcoming learners to the course and providing context for what they will be learning, the instructor sets a tone for success from the start of the course. Learners benefit from an overview of the course, with general information about the nature and purpose of the course, the course activities, grading structure, and where to find the specific information on each.”
Reflect for a moment on how you conduct your first class session for an on-ground campus course. Do you introduce yourself? Do you go over the syllabus, provide a big picture overview of the course, and then point out the activities/tasks learners should focus on first? Do you get your students excited and engaged by sharing your enthusiasm about the subject matter? In an online class, there may not be a first class meeting. Instead, learners login to your Blackboard course and that is the start of class. Consider that students may be disoriented and overwhelmed when they first login. It may be their first time using Blackboard, or your course may look completely different than their last online course. Couple this with the anxiety, fear, or excitement that some learners experience when starting a new course. Who is the instructor? What will be expected of me? What is the course about? Where should I start? What if I miss something?
Since your online students don’t have a person (you) standing right there at a prescribed class time to provide clues and cues about what the next 16 weeks will be about, how might you welcome learners into the online learning environment and get them started?
This is where Welcome and Getting Started information comes in. An increasingly common practice is to have a section labeled Start Here. This section contains everything that your students need to know about the course – what the course is about (course overview and context), what the expectations are (major assignments and grading criteria), course schedule and required material, technical requirements, and campus resources (including ADA accommodations). You might include a video welcome message to get your students excited about what is coming and engaged in the first course activities. Your welcome message also helps to establish your presence in the course and provides a way for your students to connect to you. This could be considered your first class “session” – what do you want to impress upon your students and what impression do you want to make about who you are as a teacher?
Conrad (2002) found that online learners’ immediate “sense of well-being and engagement” is dependent on their connection with the learning materials. Instructors are judged on the clarity and completeness with which their course details are presented.” Think about Welcome and Getting Started information as your first opportunity to positively impact your students’ well-being and engagement, and to launch them to learning success!
Resources and References
Whether you are an experienced online instructor or facing your very first online course, the OLC/Open SUNY OSCQR Course Design Review Scorecard is a valuable tool for course design, revision, and continual improvement.
With 50 recommendations (organized into six categories), the scorecard can feel overwhelming. Over the next several months, we will explore the scorecard, 1 recommendation at a time.
Your ideas and comments about this series are welcome. If you would like to share examples of how you applied an OSCQR recommendation in your course, please consider contributing a short blog post to the series. Contact Leslie Lindenauer or Aura Lippincott to get started!