This is a special guest blog post by Michelle Igarashi, English instructor at Leeward CC.
I started using OERs in 2014 when a publisher’s representative informed me that my textbook would be undergoing yet another round of “updating” and thus my students could no longer purchase used copies.
During a conversation with one of Leeward’s fine librarians, I discovered a wonderful new type of online text known as an “Open Educational Resource.” The clincher? These books were FREE!!!
I was dubious at first and thought there was no way a no-cost, and, gasp, online textbook could be as good as its bound counterpart. Also, I worried about accessibility. Socio-economic discrimination weighed heavily on my mind as I considered whether going 100 percent online would be appropriate and fair to all students. Therefore, for my first OER semester, I offered the students the option of printing chapters from our classroom printer (We have some tech in the room thanks to a grant.) if they so desired. No one took me up on it. I have been “textbook cost $0” from that point on, and every semester I offer students the printing option and not one has printed a single page.
My students have commented in class and on my evaluations that they love the online resources. I teach Career and Technical Education designated classes; many of my students spend their mornings in shop or in kitchens. Pupils have shared how they love having their textbook in their pockets, and how easy it is to pull out during breaks. Moreover, a couple of weeks ago, my classroom flooded, and we were relocated into the D building portables. I was concerned we’d have reading issues since we were without our usual classroom tech. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when, without missing a beat, students sat down, pulled out their phones and began reading. One even read from a flip! I captured the moment in the photo above. It looks like I have no classroom management, but as I walked around, every student had the OER pulled up, and, with no prodding, the day’s assignment was well done and completed on time.
Since adopting OERs, my students’ reading comprehension scores have gone up. Discussions are fuller as more students complete homework. No one “forgets” his/her book at home. Students like the interactive nature of OERs with clickable links as opposed to footnotes or having to flip to other parts of the book. Besides having to hide whenever a publisher’s representative walks through the Language Arts’ hallway, all is well.