Why Consider Open Educational Resources?

[social_share/] [social-bio] Sessions on this topic will be held during the Fall Fortnight:

  • Open Educational Resources (Monday August 22, 2016 from 9-9:25 AM) – Register
  • Using and Adapting Open Textbooks (Wednesday August 24 from 1-2:30 PM) – Register

There has been a lot of talk around the University of Saskatchewan during the past year about the use of open educational resources (OER), specifically open textbooks. During the 2015-2016 academic year, approximately 900 students benefited from the use of these textbooks instead of traditional commercial textbooks, saving the students approximately $90,000 overall. We expect that number to increase during the 2016-2017 academic year as more instructors have indicated that they will opt for using these resources.

In addition, there are currently six open textbooks in production at the U of S, with some being adaptations of existing resources and others being new books.

This growing interest in the use of OER isn’t limited to financial savings for students. The licenses attached to almost all open textbooks allow instructors to adapt the resources to best meet the needs of their particular courses. For example, an economics text written in the United States can be modified to update spellings and provide Canadian examples for learners. Chapters can be rearranged, removed, or replaced. Individual images or sections can be combined with other OER to create entirely different resources.

The licensing of OER also allows for having students adapt and create course content instead of simply reading or watching it. Open pedagogy moves away from the “throw away” assignment (the ones students complete, instructors mark and return, and students then throw away) and towards more practical work.

Open textbooks are currently being used at the U of S in the Edwards School of Business, the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, and in several departments throughout the College of Arts and Science.  Open textbooks exist for almost all common first year courses in Economics, Biology, Chemistry, Accounting, Sociology, Psychology, History, Anatomy & Physiology, Math, and other subjects. There are also resources for many upper year courses.

If you’re interested in using an open textbook or other OER in your courses, please see the Open USask website to see some of the many resources available in a variety of subjects. If you have an interest in adapting an existing resource, turning some learning materials that you’ve created into OER, or including open pedagogy in your courses, the U of S has supports in place to assist you. Please contact Heather Ross for more information.


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