In celebration of Open Education Week (March 1-5, 2021), the UCSB Library is highlighting one professor’s experience with using an open educational resource (OER) for a class. As the Library continues to deepen its commitment to an open paradigm for research and teaching, we want to support more faculty and lecturers who are interested in using OERs to help create a learning environment with fewer technical, financial, and copyright barriers.
Prof. Gabriel Ménard incorporated an OpenStax textbook into his Chem 25 (Introductory Chemistry) class this fall and many of his students responded positively.
“I never had to worry about a student not having the book, which often comes up even in my upper-division courses,” said Ménard. “It’s always awkward to make a book mandatory and have a student tell you they can’t afford it. I don’t want to penalize the student, who is already at a disadvantage.”
He said he discovered the OpenStax textbook when he was in contact with chemistry professors from other UC schools and saw it on a syllabus.
“It was very attractive because it’s free,” he said. “It’s particularly valuable for low-income students who are disproportionately underrepresented.”
He acknowledges that because it was his first time teaching Chem 25 and he was starting fresh, it was easy to incorporate the open textbook into his course.
“It requires a fair amount of work to switch textbooks, especially for someone who has been using the same one for 10 years,” Ménard said. “Perhaps with more awareness of OER and knowing the many benefits to the students, that could encourage [other professors] to make the switch.”
That’s where librarian Angela Chikowero can help. Chikowero is a current participant in the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) Open Education Leadership Program, which empowers academic professionals to lead successful open education initiatives.
“I would refer anyone teaching at UCSB who wants to switch to OER to Angela,” said Ménard.
Chikowero is able to assist faculty and lecturers in better understanding open educational practices and finding OER and low-cost options for courses.
“It’s been great to hear that Prof. Ménard is working to help all students be more prepared and have better learning outcomes by using OER,” said Chikowero. “I hope many more follow his lead.”
If you are a UCSB faculty or lecturer interested in learning more about how the Library can support you in using OERs, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.