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Teaching with OER: Kathy Winsted

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Interested in learning more about Open Educational Resources (OER)? Lubin's Kathy Winsted shares her experiences implementing OER into her coursework.

Lubin Associate Professor of Marketing and Director of the Center of Student Enterprise Kathy Winsted, PhD, has been implementing Open Educational Resources (OER) into her Intro to Business coursework, with great success. This month, Winsted chatted with Opportunitas to share her experiences with OER, as well the win-win it creates in regards to both teaching flexibility and affordability.

How did you first come across OER? What were your initial thoughts?

We had a grant from the Office of the Provost about three years ago. They announced they wanted faculty to use OER. I was frustrated with these textbooks that cost $200—it drives me crazy, it drives my students crazy—often students will get an old edition that's more affordable just to save money. 

I was looking for a way to solve this problem with students at the same time that the Provost was looking for faculty to use OER. I thought it was a great idea.

How do you implement OER into your teaching?

I use LoudCloud from Barnes & Noble. This has proved to be great for my Intro to Business classes. They don't have it for my upper level marketing courses, but for Intro to Business, the book covers most of the main topics. There were only really two areas I thought it left out; business math, and depreciation. But what the publisher allowed me to do in the electronic version was to put my own material in. I was able to create my own sections for areas where the book content wasn’t as good; and even add sections for quizzes. Unlike many other electronic texts, they have pooled questions for quizzes. You can create your own quiz structure and have each student get a different set of questions.

The publisher also let me put sections in the order I preferred. If I want students to read sections 2.3 and 2.4 out of chapter two, I could pick two of those sections, and combine it in a module with sections from chapter seven. This solves another problem I struggled with other textbooks. How do I get students to read only parts of the book without wasting their money, and present the reading in an organized way? With LoudCloud, I can structure it all and put it in the order I want. It's really nice, for $25 for the electronic version and another $15 for an optional print version, well under the cost of most textbooks.

What are some of the biggest challenges to successfully implementing OER?

We need to try and get more options for upper level courses and specific disciplines. It does take some work and adapting.  The only challenges were that some parts weren’t very complete, but I just created my own supplemental material. There were also a few areas where I thought the material was not presented well, but I just covered that with my lectures. LoudCloud is regularly broadening the books offered. They have really good instructor resources. They give you the quizzes, slides, materials, and let you structure everything in the order you want. I do my own simulations, and really wanted a textbook that could fit well with my simulations.

The main challenge is that you just have to make sure your OER has decent quality. In an upper level courses, it may be more of a challenge, but I find it perfect for introductory courses.

Do you see Open Educational Resources becoming more widespread in the future?

I think so, because students don’t like paying $200 for books and I don’t blame them. I think publishers have finally realized they can’t keep charging this much. Because people are starting to use OER, it has forced the prices down. I hope that this will continue to be the trend.

Interested in exploring how to pilot components of OER into your course(s)? Email Sue Maxam to set up an individual session with someone from the OER team and/or check out our comprehensive OER website.