By Sam Tarr
June 7 2016: The Massasoit Tribune
As the cost of higher education continues to climb, students look for ways to bring those costs down. Many scour the internet in an attempt to find the required textbooks at discount prices.
Faculty members have been doing some digging of their own.
Faculty at Massasoit Community College and those across the country continue to explore the internet for new ways to engage students and customize their courses.
The two objectives seem to have found common ground. That intersection is “Open Educational Resources(OER).”
For the Fall of 2015 faculty at Massasoit Community College were offered stipends to redesign their courses using OER. Participants used these free, accessible documents and media used for teaching and research, to replace the traditional textbooks. Since, 30 courses ranging from Physics to Culinary have made that switch.
In the first year, the program has saved students over $145,000 in textbook costs.
“It’s been really successful,” April Hill, Coordinator of Instructional Technology at MCC, said. April has been working with faculty to navigate on-line sources like openstax.org, as well as the MCC Library to customize their courses. She says the response has been positive.
“The faculty likes it from a professional development standpoint,” April said. “They have more freedom to organize topics in the way they want to.”
Hill also says faculty has been reporting positive reactions from students, beyond the cost-saving.
“Some students just prefer printed material,” Hill said. “But quite a few have said it’s a more engaging experience” to have a wider variety of resources all on Canvas.
With support of the federal government, and seemingly no major drawbacks, OER has emerged as a leading education trend.
Internationally, OER are being used to spread education materials to communities around the world. Here at home, more and more organizations like the Open Education Consortium, are looking to spread awareness. They hope to promote the benefits or OER to educators and Community Colleges across the country.
April Hill will be looking to help build on MCC’s momentum since the project started last year. It is her hope that students will learn to shed the “security blanket” of printed materials, as more faculty embrace, what many see, as the future of education.