OER Petting Zoos

By | August 15, 2019

During the 2018-19 academic year, Open Oregon Educational Resources used statewide funding for open education to purchase print copies of open textbooks. Each of Oregon’s 24 public colleges and universities was offered $500 to spend as they chose. The petting zoo collections were used for a variety of purposes: to provide faculty review copies, to build course reserve libraries, to display at events, and more.

The purpose of this program was to underscore the idea that open educational resources can be available for free online, or at low cost in print. Too often, faculty assume that the “O” in “OER” stands for “online” rather than “open,” which may create an unnecessary barrier to adoption. The petting zoo collections are a fun and practical way to show that OER are available in many formats because of the open license’s permission to redistribute.

Jessica Sandoval assisted in compiling the list of existing open textbooks with print versions easily available. As requests came in for OER that weren’t already available in print, Amy and Jessica uploaded them to Lulu.com and continued to build the list.

Impact Stories

Central Oregon Community College

We distributed the Petting Zoo titles requested by or relevant to faculty in Business, Humanities, and College Success to those departments for review. In May 2019 we provided the remaining titles for instructors to look at during an Open Textbook workshop with Amy Hofer. In summer 2019 we will add the textbooks to the library’s general collection for student use.

Chemeketa Community College

The Petting Zoo funds allowed Chemeketa to add three copies of a U.S. History text to our Lending Library. This provides free textbook loans to students. (No loan data is available yet for these additions.)

Klamath Community College

The OER Petting Zoo was held on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019 at 5pm. The library is following up with instructors and letting them know that we have printed copies of OER in their subjects for them to look at. After attending the June 11 train the trainer session, we plan to hold another presentation or petting zoo.

Linn-Benton Community College

We purchased 18 books. 50% went on reserve to provide students with print copies of OER already in use. The nine others were integrated with our main collection by subject area. They’ve been circed a total of 7 times. We pull the books into temporary exhibits/displays and faculty/campus events. For instance, we’ve had students guess the cost of a stack of commercial textbooks vs. the open ones.

Neat anecdote: a student asked for an intro book on a math topic at the reference desk, and I showed him the OER along with the other resources on the shelf. He told me the OER was the best reference and the easiest to understand!

Oregon Coast Community College

OCCC acquired twenty OER textbooks for a total of $489.00. We used these OER textbooks plus some of our own to put on an OER Petting zoo during Open Ed Week. We also brought the display to the College Council that same week.

Oregon Institute of Technology

Items have been loaned a total of 13 times including through Summit to other alliance member institution patrons. 5 of the items are still waiting for original cataloging, and are estimated to be available by summer term. Both campuses have had petting zoo displays.

Oregon State University

The OER textbook collection is a mix of almost 30 science, social science and humanities open textbooks. We feature the textbooks is a special section of the library and take them along to events, such as workshops and presentations on OER, so faculty can take a look at examples and check out copies to compare to their current commercial textbook.

Portland Community College

We worked across the libraries at each of our 4 campuses and were able to purchase print versions of known adopted open texts, open texts authored by PCC faculty, and some open texts in areas where we don’t have any OER adoptions. We were especially pleased to be able to provide print options on each campus for our high-adoption texts, like the ORCCA math book and Beginning Excel. We cataloged these and provide access to them at each checkout desk across the district. Next year, our goal is to plan and execute outreach strategies to notify instructors that print OER copies are available for classes in their areas.

Portland State University

Portland State University had an Open Education Week Kickoff one-day event and our OER Petting Zoo books were highlighted during the event. Faculty and students who attended got the opportunity to “pet” the books. One faculty member from the psychology department was so interested in the OERs that he encouraged one of his colleagues to come see them. She followed up by scheduling a meeting with an instructional designer to discuss adoption.

Rogue Community College

The OER Petting Zoo has given Rogue Community College instructors an effective way to learn about OERs by providing real, print copies of OER textbooks. RCC’s CG100 courses have adopted one of the OER Petting Zoo textbooks, replacing their required textbook that was over $100. Since adopting that OER textbook in the fall of 2019—in just 3 terms—RCC students enrolled in CG100 have saved an estimated $62,000. In addition, we have been able to purchase print OERs that target other departments, such as Writing, Speech, and Electronics, that are actively seeking to replace their high-cost traditional textbooks with OERs.

Southern Oregon University

Hannon Library installed the zoo on the third floor in a high-traffic area adjacent to two meeting rooms that faculty frequently use. The library director also sent an email to faculty and staff about the zoo. All books can be checked out by faculty, and several have been.

Treasure Valley Community College

The TVCC Library has created a display of OER textbooks—our Petting Zoo!–near the course reserve collection. The OER display features The Information Literacy User’s Guide; The Word on College Reading and Writing; Intro to Nutrition Parts 1, 2, and 3; Oregon Writes; and OpenStax Statistics. QR codes beside each title connect students to the online editions of the OERs. Two copies of OpenStax Statistics also reside at TVCC’s Caldwell campus, where math students have been very excited to have access to a physical copy of their textbook. We hope to add further titles as more faculty adopt OER!

University of Oregon

The University of Oregon Libraries used our OER Petting Zoo order to display print OER textbooks at our OER Review workshop facilitated by Amy Hofer of Open Oregon. OER were placed on all of the workshop desks, so that the seventeen faculty participants could flip through them and examine ones that seemed relevant to their class and discipline. One faculty participant had an “aha” moment when she commented that she thought all OER were digital and that the O in OER stood for “online.” Other faculty participants examined the creative commons licensing printed in the OER as Amy was talking about how to find the license and what the license means. Following the workshop, one faculty member commented that having the print book would help her in her review and OER adoption process, so the library is going to lend the book to her for review.

The books have already been useful during individual faculty OER consultations, too. A Sociology professor commented, “wow, this really looks like a real textbook,” when a librarian handed her a Sociology OER to review. She also commented that she appreciated examining a printed version because she expects many of her students will still want a printed book, and she “wants them to have a nice copy of the book.”

UO Libraries plans to catalog the books and create a faculty and graduate student lending library, so that other faculty and instructors can borrow the books to review and consider adopting.


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  1. Pingback: OER Petting Zoo Impact Story – openoregon.org

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