Let's Not Wait Until Next Week To Discuss FREE Textbooks


Next week, March 2-6, is Open Educational Resources (OER) Week ... But, really, given the immense value of this student-friendly tool, let’s draw attention to it right now.

OER means, in many cases, that maybe you won’t have to purchase that ultra-expensive textbook ... because a copy or two of it is available in your college’s library or academic counselling centre, or it’s on-line.

Also available, accessible and affordable (as in FREE!) from assorted sources are hundreds of databases, e-libraries and research websites with every academic topic under the sun.

Irene Stewart, St. Clair’s Retention Coordinator, discussed OER in a presentation to the Student Representative Council (SRC) in early-February.

OER, she noted, is a major highlight of the college’s new, Blackboard-app-delivered THRIVES program. (THRIVES stands for “Toolbox for Help and Resources to Increase Value and Empower Students”.)

The SRC’s meeting minutes noted that “She explained that open education resources are learning, teaching, and research resources that reside in the public domain; or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits sharing, accessing and collaborating with others.

“She finds that it breaks down barriers that traditional, expensive resources create.

“The free resources can include textbooks, games, lessons plans, software and much more.”

Students can use various websites to find things with no (or waived) copyright for school use ... which is not to say that they still shouldn’t be the subject of attributions in footnotes and bibliographies when used (they definitely should be).

Stewart also told the SRC that faculty are being encouraged to direct students to OER material as a means of increasing student retention – because affordability means that more students can stay in school.

The college is striving to publicize the availability of OER material prior to the beginning of semesters, so that cash-strapped students can try to access free/low-cost material before the start of classes, rather than waiting for late-arriving student assistance.

To find out more about on-campus OER material:

• visit the college’s Library, an/or explore its info-laden website at https://www.stclaircollege.ca/library, and that of the province-wide collegiate library network at https://www.tlp-lpa.ca/home;

• and/or Academic Counselling/Tutoring (Room 206 at main campus), and see some of its handy links at https://www.stclaircollege.ca/student-services/tutoring-services/online-resources.

Oh, and there’s a province-wide website with access to oodles of OER material too. That is ecampusOntario at (https://www.ecampusontario.ca/, graphic below). It currently has 350 items in its “open library” – many of them textbooks. It estimates that its 90,000-plus users have, to-date, saved almost $9.5 million in what would (otherwise) have been purchased educational materials.