From Open Textbooks to Open Pedagogy

Reynolds librarians, Lynn Riggs and Denise Woetzel, recently attended the annual Open Education Conference right here in Richmond. Open education advocates gathered from around the world to learn about the latest research, development, advocacy, design, and other work relating to open education including: tools and technologies supporting open education; collaborations between teaching faculty and librarians in support of open education; models supporting the adoption, use, and sustaining of OER in higher education; and the role of librarians, faculty and students in advocating for, supporting, and sustaining OER adoption and use.

Lynn and Denise attended a wide variety of sessions on everything from open textbook publishing to open pedagogy. Several sessions that got Denise and Lynn most excited and inspired were:

  • Free + Freedom: The Role of Open Pedagogy in the Open Education Movement, presented by Rajiv Jhangiani from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Vancouver and Robin DeRosa from Plymouth State University, New Hampshire. Professors Jhangiani and DeRosa explained the What, Why and How of open pedagogy. Open education is broader than open textbooks and savings. It is empowering students to make decisions about the courses they are taking as well as developing content for the course that is both meaningful and valuable to the rest of the higher education community. A fitting quote by John W. Gardner referred to during the session – “All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them how to grow their own plants.” Some open pedagogy examples identified were: students writing and editing wiki articles; a student-created first-year seminar at Plymouth State University where students were also involved in developing the attendance policy and grading policy. Some of the questions posed during the session were: Why have students answer questions when they can write them? What inspires teachers and students to learn, change, care? How can OER be part of a larger mission related to access and empowerment?
  • It’s Not About the Books: Let’s Think About Open Pedagogy, presented by Christie Fierro, Instructional Designer and OER Coordinator at Tacoma Community College. Ms. Fierro defined open pedagogy as student-created content released with an open license which gives value to the world. Some examples of open pedagogy student projects at Tacoma Community College included: a presentation to the local town council on banning plastic bags; a video promoting and discussing the importance of a local food drive; students writing and modifying chapters for open history textbooks; and students collaborating with the library archivist to create a LibGuide on the history of Tacoma Community College.
  • The Faces of OER: Student Reflections on the Z Degree Experience, this panel discussion included business professor, Linda Williams and four students from Tidewater Community College. Professor Williams began the session by asking, “Whose course are you teaching? McGraw-Hill’s or yours?” Several students reflected that the instructors for their Z degree courses were more engaged with the topics that were taught, and that they themselves felt more connected to these classes than to ones using only traditional textbooks. Students reflected that Z degree courses had a richer bank of resources for them to learn from that just one publisher.
  • Establishing Actual Costs of Textbooks Across Curricula: Data from the Virginia Community College System, presented by Jamison Miller, Kim Grewe, and Amanda Carpenter-Horning. The College Board in its Annual Survey of Colleges estimates the cost per year for books and supplies is $1200.00. This group of doctoral students sought to find out how much the average costs for books are for first year students at the VCCS colleges. They compiled a list of college level, general education, first year courses at each school and checked these against the bookstores’ prices at each college. The estimated average cost of books for these two semesters in the VCCS is $1,110.50 which is less than but close to the national average. Estimated costs for a fall semester’s worth of books at Reynolds is just over $600. For a fall semester at Central Virginia Community College the cost is under $100.

Other session highlights included:

If you would like to talk to Lynn or Denise about the Open Education Conference or discuss possible OER collaborations with the library, you can contact them by email or phone:

Check out these other Open Education Conference resources:

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