As interest and demand for Open Educational Resources (OER) has increased, educators have often been faced with some disappointing options: using a robust, yet standalone e-textbook or an overly ridged platform that doesn’t allow for customization. Last year, Babson Survey Research Group (BSRG) reported an increase in adoption of OER for high enrollment introductory courses, but found significant challenges to widespread adoption overall. “Faculty teaching introductory courses are rapidly accepting high-quality open educational resources,” said Richard Baraniuk, founder of OER provider OpenStax, recently in Inside Higher Ed. “They are willing to make changes when they discover high-quality resources that are easy to adopt and are free or very low cost for students.” If the indication is that the tide is finally turning in the acceptance of open resources, what inhibitors remain to widespread adoption?
OER BEYOND THE DIGITAL TEXTBOOK
Someone who spent a lot of time traveling around campuses and listening to the needs of faculty department heads and deans is Sesha Bolisetty, Director, Digital Content at Barnes & Noble Education. “I think faculty are finding that there is a great deal of OER content available in the market, but it’s often offered in a very piecemeal way,” he says. “You might find the perfect textbook available as a PDF, for example, but as an instructor, you need more teaching components than just that book.”
Providing a comprehensive and customizable online solution for those frustrations is BNED Courseware, powered by BNED’s LoudCloud platform which, Bolisetty explains, develops openly licensed resources that meet educators’ need for more comprehensive coverage of curriculum. “The core of our Courseware is the OpenStax version of the textbook, which has been through the entire publishing process — and includes multiple reviews by faculty members.” he says, “The textbook serves as a foundation for our Courseware and we enhance it with the kinds of resources faculty expect — such as machine-gradable assessments, curated videos, PowerPoint lecture slides and learning objective level analytics.”
BNED LoudCloud employs faculty members as subject matter experts to examine every learning objective in the basic textbook, author original content and add resources to support and enhance the textbook. These added resources offer the instructor complete flexibility with the opportunity to edit, delete or add items pertinent to their own individual teaching style and specific needs of their class. In addition, teachers can obtain valuable insights from the platform, which includes time-on-task data, quiz activities and other information that can be used to identify students at risk earlier in the semester and help them succeed.
Becky Meacham, an Assistant Professor of Psychology who teaches at West Liberty University, and one of the faculty members who participated in an initial pilot of the Courseware program last fall, found the solution not only met her demands for comprehensive teaching and subject support, but also the affordability concerns of her students. “This particular course was usually book-based, and the volume we used was expensive, frankly, and frequently updated,” she said. “The information in the Courseware program was rigorous enough for the classroom and I found I could build ideas — such as interactive assignments — easily into the course.”
ON THE FRONT LINES OF LEARNING
BNED Courseware is gaining traction with faculty across the country who want to make the switch to OER, but struggle to find the materials needed to augment open textbooks. It is also a part of Barnes & Noble College’s commitment to helping its campus partners provide students with affordable course materials.
Faculty interested in learning more about BNED Courseware can reach out to their Barnes & Noble College campus bookstore manager or visit www.BNEDCourseware.com.
Article reposted from Barnes & Noble College NEXT.
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