PHOTO CAPTION: Free the Textbooks OER Rally scheduled at Bay College
Bay College will hold a “Free the Textbooks OER Rally” on Wednesday, November 9, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., in the Student Success Center (the new “HUB”). The event, featuring free pizza, soft drinks, and prizes, is being held to bring awareness and energy to Bay College’s open educational resources (OER) degree initiative.
OER are alternatives to publisher-provided textbooks, software, and other course materials, which are often very costly to students. OER reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. The shift to OER can save students large sums of money--potentially thousands of dollars--over the course of their college careers.
Joseph Mold, Bay College’s Director of Online Learning and event organizer, said, “Our Open Educational Resource Degree Pathway grant is allowing Bay College to break away from publishers’ textbooks and embrace openly licensed content. OER saves students money and makes them more likely to succeed by having access to the content on the first day of class. Publishers’ textbooks can cost as much as $200-$400. An OER textbook can be bought in the book store for under $40 in most cases and they can be accessed for free or a very low cost ($10-$25) online.”
Bay College recently received an OER Degree Initiative grant from a consortium of investors that includes the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, the Shelter Hill Foundation, and the Speedwell Foundation to create OER-only degree programs in liberal arts, business administration, and mechatronics and robotic systems. It is anticipated that over 4,000 Bay College students will benefit from this initiative during the three-year grant period alone.
According to Mold, “This Open Textbook Rally is a battle cry for students who have been burdened by bloated publisher textbook fees for years. Publisher textbook prices have increased over a thousand percent since the late 70’s. Enough is enough.”
Currently, 13 Bay College courses are using OER. The OER Degree Initiative will grow this number to at least 30 by the fall of 2018. The OER Degree Initiative, involving 38 community colleges in 13 states, will create a library of high-quality, digital, open courses available to other institutions and the public at large. Making resources easily available to all is expected to encourage OER adoption even at non-participating institutions.
The shift to OER not only saves students money, it also invigorates teaching. Using digital and interactive open educational resources such as open courseware encourages faculty to teach students in more engaging and dynamic ways and invite students to become more actively involved in their own learning. OER does not totally eliminate printed textbooks but minimizes the cost to the student as printing costs are much less and content more tailored to each specific class.
The “Free the Textbooks OER Rally” is open to the public. Community members are welcome to find out more about how OER can make college more affordable for everyone and tour the new Student Success Center (HUB) space at Bay College. For further information, visit www.baycollege.edu/oer
or contact Joseph Mold at firstname.lastname@example.org