Over the past decade, faculty across the country have worked to address concerns about the cost of educational materials for students as well as to explore the opportunities for new approaches to teaching through the use of open educational resources (OERs). José Antonio Bowen, author of “Teaching Naked”, and keynote speaker at this year’s DePaul University Teaching and Learning Conference, mentioned several OERs that he has found particularly useful in his teaching, including videos available through Utubersity.com and Khan Academy and courseware available through MIT and Yale. As Bowen noted, students are increasingly aware of these resources and may be proactive in seeking them out as supplemental reinforcement of concepts they are learning in their classes.
The DePaul University Library provides a number of OERs that faculty may include in their courses, including the videos available through our YouTube channel, but our liaison librarians are also available to consult with faculty on other OERs that you might use in your courses. By making use of OERs, faculty may find fresh supporting material for their courses, direct students to high-quality resources available to all, and promote a cost-effective alternative to commercial textbooks. OERs may be included in your course reserves available through the library, and links may also be made to open textbooks, individually or as a collection.
As online and distance education offerings increase, the demand for widely accessible, quality resources continues to grow. Repositories like Merlot.org (a peer-reviewed multimedia collection of online teaching and learning materials for higher education) and The Open University on iTunes U were early entries on the scene, but the market has expanded and so have the selections. Earlier this year, for example, the Getty Research Institute added over 70,000 images to its Open Content Program. Librarians are available to consult with faculty on options that may help them meet the need for OERs in their classrooms.
While OERs have been available for over a decade, the need for open textbooks has received great attention in recent years, both as a student advocacy issue and as a new opportunity for collaboration between faculty and librarians. Flatworld Knowledge, one of the largest publishers of open college textbooks, provides students with free online access to complete, peer-reviewed textbooks with options to purchase affordable print and digital formats. The University of Minnesota, in partnership with Boston College and Purdue University, hosts the Open Textbook Library, providing access to complete textbooks that instructors can use, adapt, and distribute and that can be downloaded for free. In Illinois, the Open Source Textbook Initiative has been launched to “"design, create, and implement open-source educational materials for use in introductory college courses,” including texts such as “Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation.”
For more information about Open Educational Resources, visit The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Web site.