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Why OER Was Appealing for Me


The following is a special guest blog post by: Lois-Lynn Deuel, Instructor of Psychology at Leeward CC.

Lois-Lynn Deuel profileMy path to using Open Educational Resources (OER) was not a hasty one. When I taught my first college course 25 years ago, I dutifully selected a well-known textbook for the spine of my course, promptly employed all of the publisher’s bells and whistles and creatively developed colorful PowerPoint presentations to organize my in-class lectures and facilitate student note-taking.

As my experience and expertise increased, a lot of things changed in my instructional style. I started incorporating more active learning activities, stopped using the “death by PowerPoint” approach and adopted a number of flipped classroom techniques. Most importantly, I began a slow drift away from using the textbook as the foundation in my courses.

Why was OER appealing to me?

  • Each semester, more and more students were not purchasing the textbook, purchasing a really old edition, using a “similar textbook,” or depending on the University of Google. I found the potential of increased access for ALL students to be very appealing.
  • In a similar vein, access from DAY ONE and continued access long after the course has ended (something that is not possible if students have rented or resold their textbooks) gives students a substantive and permanent resource.
  • I wasn’t making use of the entire textbook. Each year, I would “require” fewer pages to be read and leave some chapters as “optional reading.”
  • I was using an increased number of supplements to address shortcomings in the textbook, e.g., short YouTube videos that succinctly explained course concepts, popular literature with meaningful examples, clips from movies, TV shows and the news.
  • Even with new editions every few years—the information in textbooks was immediately out-of-date. I was making corrections “on the fly,” and sharing stories about cutting-edge research that was YEARS from making it into a textbook.

Last year, I participated in the OER Workshop offered through PRLS. My initial intention was to increase my technical knowledge and learn about more scholarly resources that I could systematically use to beef up the supplementary materials for my courses—like an “OER Lite” to accompany the textbook. As the week progressed, I decided that an OER text along with my existing supplementary materials might be an option. It would certainly save my students money.

Unfortunately, the next thing I came to realize during the PRLS week was that there were no existing OER texts for Developmental Psychology. If I wanted something better for my students (i.e., higher quality, up-to-date, more relevant, better explanations and examples, more efficient or concentrated learning), I was going to have to make it myself—an OER mash-up using hundreds of different resources.

The PRLS workshop on OER gave me the confidence to try (WARNING: Junie, Wayde, and Leanne are really sweet, helpful and persuasive!). So, I decided to take the plunge.

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