NEXT: Faculty Advocate for OER As Movement Grows

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Mon,02/05/2018-16:34

The recent decision to invest $8 million to provide open educational resources (OER) to students at New York’s SUNY and CUNY colleges, signals a shift in the acceptance of OER in higher education. New York is not alone. Similar programs at Cal State and Georgia’s Affordable Learning Georgia system demonstrate a growing movement, capitalizing on early pilot programs and early adopter tests to firmly establish OER into the academic mainstream.



With increased availability and familiarity, faculty are feeling more confident about open learning resources. In a recent SRI Education survey, 84 percent of faculty members reported students in courses they taught, using OER, had the same or higher level of engagement as students using traditional course materials. That same survey also suggested that savings to students using OER materials averaged $134 per course, or between 5-22 percent of annual student textbook costs. “The conversation has always been about affordability,” says Brigid O’Reilly, On-Boarding/Sales Operations Manager, Digital Content for LoudCloud, a Barnes & Noble Education company.


Working with faculty on training and support for the LoudCloud OER platform, O’Reilly is experiencing, first hand, faculty’s fears and expectations. “I’m hearing conversations where faculty say their students won’t get the textbook or buy the big publisher platform — so they’re grateful they’ve found this product that will give their students access at a nominal fee,” she says. “Now, their students aren’t enrolling in their classes without first buying the course material.”


That preparedness is having a positive effect on students’ academic success. At Penn State Altoona, pupils demonstrated significant improvement when Lynn Nagle introduced OER to her Psych 100 course. In a recent exam, the 30 students who were completely up to date with the Courseware program, emerged as the highest performers in the class. “Of that group, 63 percent of them scored an A on the exam, 20 percent earned a B and 17 percent earned a C — no student fully, utilizing the Courseware, scored below a C,” she notes. To compare, Nagel looked at students who used the Courseware the least, having completed a quarter of the expected content or less. “That’s 17 of my 76 students; and only four of them, very regular with class attendance and participation, scored in the B range on the exam,” she says. “There were two Cs among them, and the rest were Ds or Fs.”


In a recent interview with NEXT, Dr. Dan Krane, Vice President of Faculty at Wright State University and Professor of Biological Sciences, found the additional capabilities OER offers key to his students’ engagement with the course. “The weekly on-line quizzes have allowed me to seriously engage students from the very start of the course, rather than have them just check in a few days before each of the exams,” he says.


Introducing OER has also given Dr. Krane clearer insights in identifying his at-risk students earlier in the course. “With the analytics we’ve been experimenting with LoudCloud this year, we can, for the first-time, take steps to help students succeed — even before they have a poor performance on an exam to drag down their grade and, even better, before they even start the course,” he says. “It’s particularly important because they’re getting the support and insights they need — as they need it — and what’s remarkable is that those students participating in these special recitations are now performing at a level that is comparable to the very least at-risk students.”



The momentum OER is now achieving on college campuses is no accident, as LoudCloud’s O’Reilly points out. “Although there are faculty who are passionate about OER and have prior experience with it, a lot of the momentum is coming from the top down,” she says. “And while faculty have freedom to make their own decisions, there’s real pressure from administrators to start making more affordable decisions.”


Indeed, research indicates that more than 7 in 10 instructors (71 percent) say they are very, or somewhat, likely to promote use of OER to colleagues, but the advantages OER can bring might also reflect the way the students themselves increasingly want to learn. “Things are moving very quickly,” Dr. Krane points out. “They need information differently. They want it in the blink of an eye. We need to be able to respond to that and deliver the information quickly and, in a way that makes sense to them — and that’s what the platform can provide.”


Article reposted from Barnes & Noble College NEXT.

Click here to read original article.

NEXT: OER Courseware - Creating Personalized Learning at a Lower Cost

Submitted by BNCAdmin on Thu,02/01/2018-16:21

With its promise of affordable course delivery, easy accessibility for students and effortless customization for instructors, open educational resources (OER) are gaining popularity in higher education. But as its popularity grows, questions still abound: Where does the courseware content come from? Is it suitable for my syllabus? And is it really free? With its growing suite of OER courseware and analytic tools, BNED LoudCloud, a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble Education, has been a leader in the growing open resources movement, and has worked closely with faculty, administrators and educational technologists to help answer some of those questions.


Working with both academic content providers and college faculty, Barnes & Noble Education Senior Digital Content Manager James Metzger, and Course Editor Danielle Lindsey, work on the development of BNED Courseware. “OER can be a really broad term and those who attend our presentations and training sessions come with incredibly varied backgrounds, experiences and expectations,” Metzger says. “Their interest usually stems from what kinds of affordability initiatives are happening on their individual campuses,” he adds.


In addition to affordability and access concerns, the LoudCloud team has also found an array of skill levels among faculty incorporating digital course materials into their course content. “It can be incredibly time consuming for instructors to scour the internet and find these resources on their own, so from the outset, we recognized that some faculty are interested in an out-of-the-box conventional publishing product — which Courseware readily does,” Lindsey explains, “while others are more interested in customizing and adding their own touches to the high-quality content.”



The comparison to traditional publishing isn’t incidental. “We work in a lot of the same ways a conventional publisher would,” Lindsey explains. “The courses that we’ve developed are authored by subject-matter experts — people who are leaders and actively teaching in their fields — and from sources such as OpenStax. All content undergoes a very thorough vetting process from experts and equally qualified reviewers.”


“There are a lot of eyes on the materials,” Metzger agrees, “not just to confirm their accuracy, but to ensure the breadth of content is appropriate for the course and that the content is written in an engaging manner,” he says. Questions and concerns about the costs of Courseware are openly addressed by Metzger and Lindsey, educating faculty how they can freely obtain content from an open resource provider such as OpenStax, but that Courseware also takes the simple downloadable PDF to another level. “What we’re doing is designing a product with not just the course materials, but we’re also curating videos supporting that content that will engage students, creating homework assignments, discussions and developing a thousand-plus test questions and self-check quizzes that really pull together a whole course experience for both instructors and students,” Metzger says.


These additional learning assets are proving to be useful for students. In recent survey conducted at the Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS), over 74 percent of students using LoudCloud Courseware watched all the accompanying videos to their courses. Intentionally designed around the student experience, the platform also provides an exceptionally clean, mobile-friendly interface as students increasingly access their course materials from their phones.



As a leading provider of digital education services, Barnes & Noble Education understands where the demand lies for new courseware, and Metzger and Lindsey believe they’re already seeing the beginning of the future of learning. Although a full-print companion is available to students using Courseware, less than 20 percent requested it. “They’re digital natives, and a lot of what we’re now doing is packing functionality into the course materials — clicking on a word to get its definition is a different way of learning — and that’s something you can’t get with a printed version,” says Lindsey.


The LoudCloud team is currently working on more course offerings, with 15 additional titles in development, focusing on new subject areas. “The current trend is on general education, but we would argue that the areas that would really benefit most are those focusing on general training and business topics such as criminal justice,” Metzger says. “We’re also focusing on two-year colleges, where there’s so much potential for us to help students — where the rising cost of textbooks is becoming an increasingly critical issue.”


Article reposted from Barnes & Noble College NEXT.

Click here to read original article.