Finding your OER Champions

Throughout our OER series, we’ve explored the value open educational resources bring to students, instructors, and institutions as well as where to begin with OER. Last week, we discussed using a model to bring open educational resources (OER) to your institution by building relationships with key influencers and OER champions.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, your institution probably has OER champions already.

Typically, OER are first adopted by the hard sciences. But you likely have another partner: your institution’s library.

Libraries and OER

“Because that’s what Hermione does,’ said Ron, shrugging. ‘When in doubt, go to the library.” J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

On reflection, libraries are a natural fit with open educational resources. Libraries are adaptive, open, and immersed in information, and librarians are often tech-savvy and aware of trends before the rest of us.

That’s why we’ve asked Emerging Technologies Librarian, Amy James, to share her thoughts about OER with us.

Interview with Emerging Technologies Librarian, Amy James

Amy JamesAmy James is an Emerging Technologies Librarian & Assistant Professor at Spring Arbor University (SAU) in Spring Arbor, Michigan. She has a Master’s Degree in Library & Information Science from Wayne State University and currently lives in Jackson, Michigan with her husband and daughter. In addition to her work in the library she also teaches Management Information Systems for the Gainey School of Business. At SAU, she serves on two faculty committees: Academic Technology Committee and Faculty Development Committee. She is an Associate Editor for The Christian Librarian journal and is responsible for the Open Access component of the journal. Her academic and research interests include the effective use of technology in information literacy instruction, library assessment techniques, and the role that libraries can play in providing access to and training on open educational resources.

When did you first become aware of OER?

I first became aware of OER about 3 years ago. I was at a library conference and got into a discussion with some other librarians and learned that many colleges and universities were starting to create OER initiatives or incorporate OER into individual courses with the hopes of increasing its popularity across campus.

Why is the White Library at Spring Arbor University interested in OER?

The White Library is interested in OER because as librarians, we are advocates for and champions of, access to information. OER allows for free access to quality information for anyone with an Internet connection. This provides an equal opportunity for all when it comes to having access to course materials. Because of this, the library strongly supports OER initiatives.

What are some of your favorite uses for OER?

I like the idea of incorporating OER that students can actually make changes to themselves. Even something like a course text created by the professor that is edited by students to add additional perspectives or information could be fun!

What interesting things do you see other institutions doing with OER?

Lansing Community College has taken huge strides in order to create a campus-wide OER initiative. They have a long list of courses that now use 100% OER materials. This has positively impacted their students and their enrollment. They started their initiative in the fall of 2015 and by 2017 saved their students over $1.1 million dollars in textbook costs (and probably more since the article I reference is from 2017).

What about OER will work for our university?

Some OER are already created and then just reused by others. Other times OER will need to be created from scratch. Lansing Community College received special funding that enabled their faculty to devote time to developing these resources. Because this is a time-consuming process, having that extra funding source enabled LCC to create a robust campus-wide OER initiative. At SAU, we can still incorporate OER into our courses. There are many resources that are of high quality and already available for incorporation into a course. You can check many of them out (organized by discipline) from our OER LibGuide.

What have you or the White Library staff done to share OER with the university?

In order to get the word out about the availability and benefits of incorporating OER, the Library Director, Robbie Bolton, and I have presented at a Buck Lunch on campus to other faculty who are interested in learning how to use OER in their courses. We have also presented this to the School of Human Services. We are now working with faculty one-on-one as needed to aide in the process of transitioning their courses to an OER model once they make the decision to switch.

OER Allows for Powerful Collaborations

Thank you for allowing us to share your OER insights with our blog audience, Amy. We’re excited to work with the White Library and other OER champions on campus to bring OER to our online and blended courses.

Have you worked with your library or others on campus to bring OER to your institution? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

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