March 22, 2017
The following is a guest blog post by Borjana Lubura-Winchester, Geography Lecturer, Leeward Community College.
Aloha, my name is Borjana and I am a Geography lecturer at Leeward CC and the UH Manoa. Originally, I am from Sarajevo, Bosnia and a proud Leeward CC/Manoa graduate. First time I have learned about OER was last semester from our librarian Junie Hayashi. My students complained about high cost of the textbook I was using for one of my classes. In addition to high cost, I was using a very small portion of the book and could not find any alternative. I was constantly ‘bombarded’ with different publishers and offers via email or knocking on my office door, but nothing even close to what I wanted. Finally, I decided to create my own textbook and asked Junie for help. During our first meeting, Junie started telling me about OER and creative commons, licenses, copyright, etc. Oh boy, it was so overwhelming to me. I did not understand anything. I ‘jumped’ into compiling the resources week by week. Pretty soon I learned how hard process that could be. The OER workshop saved my life!
Participation in the OER workshop made a whole difference for me and my students. From the early start, the students did not have to worry about the textbook. There were no complains about ‘late Amazon arrivals’ or waits for the financial aid to ‘kick in.’ The material was immediately available online and ready to use. I cannot say that I was not skeptic at first about credibility and availability of the sources. However, the OER workshop and its facilitators Leanne, Junie and Wade helped me to get on a right path of finding sources I never knew existed before. The facilitators were patient with many of my questions and always willing to provide guidance for my subject matter. I discovered a well of available pictures, podcasts, documentaries, lectures, textbooks and various articles. Also, I realized that there is a completely new world of the community of authors who put hard work into creating these materials, yet enable them for anyone to use. At first, I did not want to share MY hard work, but (after participating in the workshop) I changed my attitude. Once my textbook is complete to the standard I feel comfortable with, I will upload it for use in the OER.
Finding sources is not an easy job. Giving the appropriate credit and using the appropriate attributions is crucial. Weekly homework and in-class activities with my colleagues helped me understand the process better. The teamwork cleared up any confusion and gave me the confirmation of how to find/attribute sources correctly. The facilitators had ‘easy to follow’ weekly assignments with the list of compiled instructions, links and directions for us to successfully complete the task.
Throughout the OER workshop I created my ‘road map’ toward OER courses. Because of the OER workshop, I am able to offer the rest of my classes with the OER for upcoming Fall 2017. I must admit, I am glad that there is the summer break coming up where I can spend a lot more time searching and building my source bank. My advice for instructors who plan on converting their classes to OER is to do it over the summer break where they might have more time. In the end, no matter when an instructor decides to take this journey, the OER is worth her/his time. I feel liberated and much confident in my classes and material I present to my students. It suits better the student learning objectives and their success in the classroom. It enables me to teach what matters the most in my discipline. Thank you OER team!