Columbia Gorge Campus Report

By | June 12, 2015

John Schoppert, Director of Library Services, notes that OER is gaining momentum at CGCC, with faculty adopting in Biology, History, Psychology, Philosophy, and RD/WR 115 courses. Pre-college/Dev. Ed. hopes to be completely OER in the near future, and the CAS (Computer Applications and Office Systems) program was an early adopter. This post was contributed by Dan Hall, Sociology Instructor, Columbia Gorge Community College. 

I was first introduced to OER at a faculty in-service by John Schoppert, our Director of Library Services. I instantly thought it was a great idea. It was not long after that John helped me find the OpenStax Introduction to Sociology textbook.

To be honest, I was sold by the idea of open textbooks, but wondered if the quality was really there. I discovered that the OpenStax content is not only comparable to the “mainstream” text I was planning to use, but that it is also leaps and bounds better in terms of availability, price, and currency. Other positive reviews of this book from faculty all over the world are available in the Open Textbook Library. With that one introduction and text in hand, I quickly became an OER believer.

I have now implemented the text into my introduction course and look forward to teaching it this coming term. My class sizes have ranged from 5-23 with an average of 14 students per term. The book I was going to use was Sociology by John J. Macionis. I always use the edition prior to the latest, as long as it is still mostly relevant, to keep costs down for students. So in this case it would have been the 14th edition, which is available on Amazon from $5 used to $80 new. I am not the best faculty member for drastic student savings comparisons with OER, as I have always tried to keep book costs down for students this way, but an average savings of $70-$1,120 per class per term is still worthwhile.

With this new-found fervor for OER, I was invited to go to the Open Textbook Summit this spring in Vancouver, British Columbia. Wow, the energy around open textbooks and open pedagogy was truly remarkable. People from all over Canada, The U.S., The U.K., and beyond were there completely enthused to learn about, teach, and promote OER. If something struck me the most about the Summit, it was the wholehearted commitment to the open movement. Instructors, professors, administrators, deans, librarians, students, researchers, business owners, and others all in one building united in one big OER revolution – it was truly remarkable.

There were tons of seminars and workshops that explained everything from research data to implementing OER on an institutional level. Being new to the movement, I learned about the 5 R’s of OER: Reuse, Retain, Redistribute, Revise, and Remix. I found out how to organize and conduct a “sprint” to make effective working material to complement texts in short periods of time. One seminar talked about implementing voice and video within the classroom that is recorded and filmed by local experts for a course. Another speaker talked about the emotional connection faculty gain when creating OER for their courses. However, the biggest takeaway was that of the passion and drive to create a course that is organized around creativity, exploration, and most importantly availability for our students through cost-effective means.

The Summit left an indelible impression on me. The opening speaker played a clip of the Matrix where Neo has to choose either the blue or red pill, and chooses the red pill and stays in the matrix. You truly left the Summit choosing the red pill of OER. Since attending the Summit I am very excited to continue to implement OER into further courses and foster the ideas, dreams and goals that OER and the movement of open pedagogy set out to attain. I hope you will join me.



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