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OER (open educational resources) have been gaining more and more interest and use over the past several years. These open licensed and free-to-use information resources are high quality supplements or replacements for traditional textbooks, and many faculty at Kirkwood are already using them as their required course textbooks. We at Library Services have been supporting faculty identification and adoption of OER for several years now, and this last spring we surveyed our faculty to learn more about their use of and interest in OER. Here’s what we found out:

  1. At Kirkwood, there is currently more interest in OER than actual adoption: Out of 133 faculty respondents, 4 (3%) indicated that they have already adopted OER for one or more of their courses, and 61 (46%) indicated they are interested in adopting OER as a full or partial replacement for their class textbook. The other half of respondents were either not interested in OER (21%) or not familiar with OER (30%).
  2. Faculty would like more resources and workshops on finding and adopting OER: Several faculty requested in-person workshops on OER adoption, along with ongoing support throughout the semester. In response there is a KCELT class currently being planned on both the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City campuses — please contact Kate Hess at the Iowa City Campus Library to register (kate.hess AT kirkwood.edu). The date and time will be decided based upon participant availability.
  3. Some of the requested online resources for finding and adopting OER already exist on the Library’s website, within the Faculty Services LibGuide. This site, created specifically for Kirkwood faculty who want to adopt OER, links to many different sources for high quality OER, along with guides on how to evaluate these sources and use them with students.
  4. Many faculty have found that adopting OER can be a very time-consuming and complicated task. There are certainly hurdles to OER adoption: the time to locate and review the materials, transitioning to a different method of making materials available to students, not being able to depend on the material being updated by the creator, to name a few.

We would definitely like to lend a hand to faculty who want to adopt OER, and help problem solve the issues you run into. Here are some examples of solutions to common problems:

  • Problem: Some faculty are concerned about having students access an online textbook — many students may lack computer skills or lack reliable internet access from home.
    Solution: OER can actually be printed and packaged for sale at the Kirkwood Bookstores. Because of the open licensing, no permission is needed to download and make copies of the material. The Bookstore in conjunction with Kirkwood Print Services can make copies for your students, and will charge them only enough to recuperate the cost. Contact the Kirkwood Bookstore to find our more about this process.
  • Problem: Some faculty are concerned about losing the supplemental resources they get with their current textbook — things like test banks and study guides.
    Solution: You might be surprised to learn that many OER do have supplemental resources for faculty and students, and that some have a whole suite of online resources to go with their open text, all at a very low cost per student for a semester.  Lumen Learning is an outstanding example of this, with their platforms Candela, Waymaker and OHM.

If you’re a Kirkwood faculty and you’re interested in OER, please contact me to discuss the possibilities! (kate.hess AT kirkwood.edu)