Last month Barnes and Noble College attended the Rutgers Online Learning Conference. In its seventh year, the conference included two days of presentations and workshops focusing on a wide array of topics. Keynote speakers included: Jeff Selingo, Denneth Ronkowitz, Deb Adair, Ray Schroeder, and Joan Bouillon.
Barnes and Noble College, as one of the sponsors of the conference had a table set up where our Rutgers general manager, Lew Claps, and Digital Education Coordinator, Sarah Goehringer met with attendees to answer questions and demonstrate our LMS integration.
One session we attended relates to the NEXT article, “The Quiet and Careful Revolution of OER.” The session led by Rutgers librarians Jill Nathanson, a Reference and Instruction Librarian, and Mei Ling Lo, Mathematics and Computer Science Librarian focused on open educational resources. Both librarians stressed the importance of the cost-saving benefits that open educational resources have to students.
Open textbooks can be downloaded for free and a number OER sites already exist and are visited frequently by faculty and students. Most users choose the free eBook version, however many open textbooks do come in a print version with a small charge to cover the cost of printing. These resources are licensed by the author-creator with rights that are less restrictive than copyright. This is why they can be offered for free or at a lower price compared to a traditional textbook.
One topic during the session that we found particularly interesting had to do with “faculty skepticism towards using open educational resources,” specifically, open textbooks. Some important points that were discussed included, quality and availability. When we select a textbook from a publisher we know that it is good quality and that it has been evaluated. For open textbooks we don’t know the evaluation process and it comes down to the faculty member making the decision as to whether the resource is relevant, of good quality, and something they feel would benefit their students.
Another reason open textbooks aren’t used as frequently as traditional textbooks, besides the fact that the concept is fairly new, is because they don’t typically come with the test banks that many textbooks include. In addition, that being said, not all disciplines have open textbooks available yet.
OER resources are continuing to grow. At Barnes and Noble College we’ve recognized the potential in accessibility and cost-savings to students. While the adoption of using open educational resources has been slow, we believe that this platform of information is one that in the future will expand the quality of higher education.