Teaching Free for All: A Discussion of Open Educational Resources  (OERs) in US and World History Survey Courses

AHA Session 175
Saturday, January 7, 2017: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Plaza Ballroom D (Sheraton Denver Downtown, Plaza Building Concourse Level)
Sarah Randow, LeTourneau University
Ann Marie Davis, Ohio State University
Jessica McCullough, Connecticut College
Sarah Randow, LeTourneau University
Christy Jo Snider, Berry College

Session Abstract

Over the past few years, the price of receiving a post-secondary education has increased drastically. One small part of the increase is the cost of textbooks, which can range in price anywhere from twenty-five to three hundred dollars. Purchasing textbooks can make higher education cost-prohibitive, particularly for college students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. This is a reality we cannot afford to ignore in the twenty-first century, where a degree is increasingly a necessity in the workplace. According to research by the Florida Distance Learning Consortium in 2012, an anonymous student survey of Florida state universities, colleges, and community colleges revealed that the price of textbooks had caused students to not purchase the required book (64%), not register for a course (45%), drop a course (27%), or fail a course (17%).[1] In addition to cost, for students taking online courses around the globe, the shipping wait time for print textbooks can put them hopelessly behind their peers at the start of the term and unable to catch up. As publishers release new editions nearly yearly, faculty feel pressure to revise their courses to reflect the updates and students are unable to purchase used books to save a few dollars.

What is our role and duty as educators hoping to democratize higher education and help our students succeed? This roundtable will discuss the shift toward Open Educational Resources (OERs) in higher education, specifically as it applies to both American and World History survey courses. Each presenter will discuss the challenges and benefits of implementing OER materials in their courses, including in online and in traditional classrooms, with an eye on some of the overarching themes and the results of the pilots. In particular, we will discuss The American Yawp, a relatively new free, online textbook built collaboratively by historians and un-beholden to publishers’ profit-driven motives. We will also discuss the MERLOT repository, a curated collection of OERs available on the web. We will consider: How do OERs in U.S. and World History compare to published textbooks in content, quality, design, and accessibility? When History educators make the switch to OERs, do students still receiving the vital information they need to meet the outcomes and pass the class? Does the free price tag outweigh the potential costs? Can the shift to an all-OER course boost enrollments and lower withdrawal and failure rates for students in introductory courses?

[1]Robin Donaldson, David W. Nelson, and Eric Thomas, 2012 Florida Student Textbook Survey (Tallahassee, FL: Florida Virtual Campus, 2012), http://www.openaccesstextbooks.org/%5Cpdf%5C2012_Florida_Student_Textbook_Survey.pdf

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