OERs: Textbooks and more

Bates College Chapel
Photo by N.Y. Walton, Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

On April 26 I attended a day long workshop on open educational resources (OERs).  Though high textbook costs are an important driver in the OER movement, OERs go beyond low-cost textbooks.

Morning speaker Marilyn Billings (UMass Amherst) mentioned the 5 Rs of the open movement: reuse, revise, remix, redistribute, retain.  Afternoon speaker Karen Cangialosi (Keen State University) described students as not only consumers, but also creators, of knowledge.  The ACRL Framework describes students as “consumers and creators of information who can participate successfully in collaborative spaces” (Association of College & Research Libraries, 2016, p. 8).

Both speakers noted how OERs stay with students after graduation.  Marilyn Billings remarked that students can consult their OERs when they are in the workforce.  Doing so fosters a habit of lifelong learning.  Karen Cangialosi spoke of student engagement in creating for a wider audience.  These assignments are less likely to be tossed aside after the semester is over.    How can we librarians educate students about quality OERS they can use after graduation?

Then a panel of Bates College faculty shared experiences with high textbook costs and with using OERs.  Carrie Diaz-Eaton (Digital and Computational Studies) developed a course on “Calling bull.”  The course theme calls to mind the Authority is Constructed and Contextual frame (ACRL, 2016, p. 12).  Kirk Read (French and Francophone Studies) and students sought new examples to replace stereotypes reflected in a previous text.  This project brings students and under-represented Francophones into the scholarly conversation.  The Framework reminds us about the scholarly conversation ((ACRL, 2016, p. 20).   Meredith Greer (Mathematics) and Margaret Imber (Dean of the Faculty) shared their examples as well.

These were but examples.  All the same they can inspire conversations about thoughtful OER use beyond textbooks.  Thanks to Bates College for its hospitality.


Association of College & Research Libraries. (2016). Framework for information literacy for higher education. Chicago, IL: Author.

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