Affordable Text Options
OER at Western
Efforts to support Open Educational Resources (OER) efforts at Western Washington University started in 2016, with a few faculty grants each year focusing on transforming course materials for large GUR courses to using open or alternative textbooks. In 2019, the CIIA and ATUS received a $36K grant from Washington State supporting faculty course transformations utilizing free course content. Over the past few years, 16 high impact Western courses have been transformed saving students an approximated $1.4 million.
OER and OEP Teaching Handbooks
The Center for Instructional Innovation and Assessment has developed two “toolkits” in the Teaching Handbook that provide extra resources for faculty interested in using alternatives to traditional textbooks in their courses. The Open Educational Resources Toolkit focuses on the basics of finding and using OER in courses. Additionally, the CIIA developed the Open Educational Practices Toolkit. This handbook focuses on different teaching methods and techniques faculty can use that are built from open pedagogy. Main ideas include making students producers of knowledge, different techniques for distributing their work and ideas, and using different kinds of “text” and new media as teaching resources.
For a deeper dive into Open Educational Practices, explore the OEP-themed Innovative Teaching Showcase. This issue highlights three WWU instructors who create meaningful, engaging, and collaborative learning environments and encourage free and open access of knowledge and learning through the use of podcasts, blogging, and curated media collections.
Each summer the CIIA offers a week-long Faculty Development Summer Grant Workshop for faculty looking to redesign their course(s). In this workshop, faculty can choose to participate in sessions targeted at developing or modifying a text to replace a textbook in their course. This workshop covers key topics such as licensing, modifying OER texts, and publishing OER texts. Faculty then work on the redesign of their course materials over the summer with access to additional research and development support through the CIIA and ATUS. Funding for this professional development opportunity is dependent upon support from several key offices, including the CIIA, ATUS, Outreach and Continuing Education, the Library, and the Provost, as well as via the Student Technology Fee. Departments and colleges also often co-sponsor the stipends as a way to offer the learning opportunity to additional instructors. Offerings vary depending on annual commitments.
Currently, Western does not have an enterprise solution specifically for e-book publishing; however, there are some options available to support faculty who want to get started. Western’s Wordpress integration allows individuals to create web content on this platform. The CIIA also obtained a limited number of faculty licenses for Pressbooks, a web-based publishing tool which allows authors to publish books without having to go through a publishing company. The Pressbooks interface is fairly intuitive, allows for a variety of media, and allows for exporting the text in many formats increasing compatibility on student devices. Inquiries about Pressbooks should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. At Western, several texts have been published through Pressbooks, including the following examples:
Political Science Theory - a reader of public domain materials compiled by Vicki Hsueh and Shirin Deylami in the Political Science Department
Popular Music - an immersive text that offers students access to video and audio examples created and compiled by Todd Smith from the Music Department