Exploring OER with the Open Textbook Network


Faculty at GVSU… are YOU:

  • CONCERNED about the impact of high textbook costs on students?

  • INTERESTED in finding course materials that you can freely revise and adapt?

  • CURIOUS why people keep talking about Open Educational Resources (OER) at conferences, workshops, and campus events?

On October 22, the University Libraries are hosting two visitors from the Open Textbook Network, a national consortium of academic institutions advancing the use of OER, for a full day of workshops and meetings.

Guest presenters Marilyn Billings (University of Massachusetts – Amherst) and Meggie Mapes (University of Kansas) are passionate, successful advocates for OER, and are presenting a badge-eligible workshop for any interested faculty instructors.

Open Opportunities: Exploring OER with the Open Textbook Network is a two-hour workshop focused on discovering and evaluating OER for potential use in a course. This badge-eligible session is specifically designed to provide an introduction to OER and kick-start attendee’s exploration of high-quality open textbooks.

Open Opportunities Workshop

TIME: 1:00 – 3:00 PM
DATE: October 22

Access full details and registration in Sprout.

If you have any questions about this professional development opportunity or OER in general, please feel free to contact Matt Ruen, Scholarly Communications Outreach Coordinator, ruenm@gvsu.edu.

#OER @GVSU – Open Education Resources increase Access and Reduce Costs

The Grand Valley Lanthorn recently highlighted the topic of open education resources in an article entitled: “Open Education Resources provide cheaper textbook alternative“.  In this article, Hannah Lentz provides a great overview of the importance of OER and it’s forward movement in higher ed.  In addition, Hannah referred to the increasing momentum of OER across our campus. The eLearning team is part of this campus wide initiative, and we offer support to faculty in investigating and adopting these resources.

Be sure to check out the article and visit the GVSU library OER web site for more information.


“Education is about sharing knowledge, and we are excited to see the potential of OER across the university to increase access and reduce costs,” said Eric Kunnen, associate director of the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team. “We believe that in collaborating together we can support faculty and students in their use of open educational resources across the institution”

There are a lot of opportunities to explore as we look to the future together. Please do reach out to the eLearning team for assistance in incorporating OER in your classes @GVSU!



PBS provides video content for courses at GVSU

In a special session organized by Kim Kenward, instructional designer in IDeL, faculty and staff at GVSU learned about a new resources available via a special partnership with PBS.  Faculty and students can access thousands of FREE, standards-aligned digital resources that can be used for classroom and online courses.

With 100k+ digital resources from a variety of subjects, faculty can integrate the content into their curriculum to help their students make connections to a variety of topics.  Developed in partnership with the WGBH Educational Foundation and supported by public media stations nationwide, PBS LearningMedia offers multiple service levels to millions of educators and students.

In July, Rosemary Cleveland, GVSU COE proferssor and graduate teacher certification students were filmed by WGVU regarding their training and use of PBS Learning Media.  This video is currently on the WGVU Home Page and is airing multiple times on WGVU HD from now until October 30.

Background information about PBS Learning Media can be found at:

Learn more about PBS LearningMedia and create your account by visiting: http://pbslearningmedia.org  You can also follow PBS LearningMedia on Twitter and Facebook.

Open Educational Resources Summit at Lansing Community College #LCCOER

Sherry Barricklow, Vince St. Germain, and Eric Kunnen from the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team, attended the Open Educational Resources Summit that was held on Sept 18 at Lansing Community College.  This post is a collection of notes and resources shared at the event.

OER Summit

“OER and Solving the Textbook Cost Crisis”
Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)

  • The textbook market is broken. There is a market failure that is driven by publishers providing textbooks and professors select them and the students then are required to buy them, regardless the cost.  This gives publishers the ability to charge whatever they want. This has allowed prices to rise astronomically.
  • Only 5 majors publishers hold nearly 90% of the market.
  • Students are not spending money on buying textbooks.  They are doing what they can to get by.
  • 2 in 3 students say they decided to not buy a textbook because of the high cost. (Source Florida Virtual Campus)
  • Less than 50% of students in a class actually have the current version of the textbook. (Source Florida Virtual Campus)

Students don’t learn from materials they can’t afford!

  • DEFINITION: OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or are released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others.
  • 5 R’s: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix, Redistribute
  • Creative Commons provides the ability for licensing and empowers sharing.
  • Openstax College provides free books for 18 courses.
  • Open learning is also happening through MOOCs and other resources.
  • Openstax Textbooks Provide
    • Free online
    • Free PDF
    • Free ePub
    • Print version is at cost: $49.73
    • Instructor can customize
  • Open Textbook Library at the University of Minnesota is curating a list of open textbooks.
  • Tidewater Community College “Z DEGREE” replaced all of their textbooks in the business program and reduced the cost of nearly $4,000 across the program which is a savings per graduate of 25%. They have also improved course completion rates.
  • Project Management for Instructional Designers is a free resource for ID’s.
  • When OER textbooks are used, a student saves on average $128 per course, when their traditional book is replaced with an open textbook. Open textbooks have the potential to save more than a billion dollars each year.
  • What can you do to get things started?
    • Make sure faculty who want to share are able to
    • Make sure faculty who want to use OER have the support they need
    • Involve students in everything you do

“Tools and Techniques for High Impact OER Adoption”
Dr. David Wiley, Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer, Lumen Learning

education is sharing, sharing what you know, sharing feedback, encouragement, passion, and yourself

  • What is open? Open is not just free. Free is assumed. OPEN = free with permissions and to retain these. Retain is a prerequisite to revise and remix.
  • OER Adoption = Replacing whatever was previously in the “Required Materials” section of your syllabus with OER. Making these the materials that are required.
  • High Impact = Improves student success, decreases cost, and can be scaled.
  • Kinds of OER Adoption: 1) Replace – Simple Substitution (use a different textbook), 2) Realign – Objectives as TOC (for each outcome, what is the best OER tha can support this use the objectives as a table of contents for your own “open textbook”), 3) Rethink – Open pedagogy
  • What are the impacts of adopting OER?  Calculate it yourself with the real time OER calculator vis Lumen Learning.
  • Research findings for student success via OER.
  • Tip: Support faculty by pre-selecting a series of resources that are open and available.  There are a ton of others, but it’s good to have a list to start with.
  • Rather than disposable assignment a paper they hand it, you grade, and then they throw away, give students an option with media in the open domain. Example:

  • Project Management for Instructional Designers, students have done a lot of the updates.  It’s open and so the students have the “permission” to improve.
  • OER-based degree is the ultimate goal as it provides reliability and predictability that students can count on, that is, they already know (when they are searching for a university to attend) that they will not have to purchase textbooks.
  • VCCS offers an easy way to see OER resources in their Blackboard system and provides faculty with a quick way to add the resources to their courses.bboer_vccs
  • Createspace, Lulu, and other resources are available for print needs.
  • In Utah K12, Lumen worked to help replace a science textbook and these are printed for only $5 per copy via Amazon createspace.
  • Student governments can also help support the movement from paying for textbooks to a $5-10 OER course fee.

“Free Textbooks and Resources: Access on Day One for You and Your Students”
Nicole Finkbeiner, Associate Director, Institutional Relations, OpenStax, Rice University

  • Ease of use is a goal to make it easy to find the materials and to use them.
  • Free isn’t good enough, the system needs to encourage quality.
  • Openstax help the scope and sequence to support existing curricula.
  • There are currently 18 texts but they are working on getting to 25.  The books selected for production are focused on the entry or foundation courses for schools.  High enrollment courses are also a focus with those courses that have high priced textbooks.
  • OpenStax CNX is a resource for faculty to submit materials or to remix the books that are available.
  • Why not OER? Lack of knowledge, quality concerns, ease of use.
  • OpenStax uses peer review and editorial processes.
  • Supplemental materials are also available such as test banks, presentations, and student activities.
  • 1,400+ schools are using OpenStax textbooks, in Michigan, the following schools are using OER resources:


  • OpenStax also has partnerships with homework, print, courseware and other providers.
  • 10% of students will purchase a hard copy of the text.  OpenStax also has partnerships with school bookstores.
  • Books can be customized. For example, editing all the examples with local companies or contexts. $5.00 for an Apple iBook.  Here is an example of a Biology book. Faculty can also link to specific places within the book.

MCO OER Repository Project
Ronda Edwards, Executive Director, Michigan Colleges Online (MCO)

Community College Panel
Moderated by Una Daly, Director, Curriculum Design & College Outreach, Open Education Consortium and Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER)

Dr. William Preston Davis, Director of Instructional Services, Northern Virginia Community College
Dr. Lisa Young, Faculty Director, Center for Teaching and Learning, Scottsdale Community College
Quill West, Open Education Project Manager, Pierce College
Tina Ulrich, Director of Library Services, Northwestern Michigan College
Jeff Janowick, Professor of History, Lansing Community College
Kari Richards, Adjunct Professor of German, Lansing Community College

IMG_4660 IMG_4662 IMG_4663

Nuts and Bolts Workshop (Gannon Building Commons)
Facilitated by Dr. Lisa Young, Dr. William Preston, Quill West, Una Daly