Tuesday, September 30, 2014

$1 Million and Counting

Today Tacoma Community College announced that "The Liberated" students have saved just over $1 million in the twenty-four months we have been keeping track of student textbook savings. This quarter alone, teachers of over 71 sections of courses at TCC are using alternatives to traditional textbooks. For each student enrolled in these courses, this translates to an average of $100 in savings.

Tacoma Community College is committed to increasing access to education through cutting textbook costs, and sharing our own materials as widely as we can. We have also found that instructors appreciate textbook alternatives as much as students do, because more flexible learning materials equal more freedom to experiment in the classroom.  As instructor K. Young puts it, "Open up, and own it—by giving it away." Another instructor, S. Endicott told us, "Textbooks don't dance, students do."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Saved $833K!

Textbook Liberated Students from the Tacoma Campus Public Speaking Class signed a thank you note to Tacoma Community College faculty, staff, and administration for supporting the OER Project. To date our college has saved students a collective $833,000 on textbooks in eighteen months. We're hoping to reach $1 million dollars in savings by Fall 2014.

Photograph by Christie Fierro, CC-BY-SA 4.0

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Active Participation and Practice

Deandra W. is new to classes that use a collection of resources, instead of a traditional textbook. She points out that while some classes may need a textbook, others are better organized around a more diverse approach to the concepts.
"Although I am sure some classes need a textbook, I feel some classes are a better fit for hands-on learning. By this I mean being able to try something and learn from your mistakes. Your success is truly what you put into the class."
Deandra also notes that when her teacher this quarter announced that the class was OER, she felt that the college cared more about her financial success. She also feels liberated from purchasing content that she may not have needed. "Studying with OER allows you to learn or be subjected to only what you need, versus studying with a book. You pay for the whole book, even if you don't use it."

Deandra, we are happy that you are enjoying your OER class. We hope that when you get to some of those classes where a textbook is needed, they are classes that use open textbooks! In the meantime, TCC will keep working to ensure that you are liberated from unnecessary textbook costs.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Changing Expectations of Learning

While saving money on textbooks is important, it is also important to recognize that students invest a lot of time learning new ways to approach course materials when they use open resources.

Carol P. found that using open resources for her English course did affect the way that she studied.  “At first, the freedom from a textbook felt overwhelming. OER requires a more open-minded understanding of the material because the information seems to comes from all sides, instead of from one book that I can open and refer back to as I learn. I find myself expanding and expanding my circle of sources until I tell myself that I just need to stop, go back, and figure out what material is valuable.” While Carol knows that she saved money on her textbook, she notes that she printed a lot more during the course. However, she also notes that, “I may have kept a textbook for a year or two--just in case I might use it for another class--but, experiencing the freedom of searching for information online, will benefit me for the rest of my life.” As Carol points out, students might have to plan to make more decisions about materials when OER are used instead of traditional textbooks. “Using OER, I am challenged to search for information--with all of its broken links, advertisements, and/or technical difficulties--instead of simply opening my textbook. This process requires extra planning and good communication with my instructor. I believe that this better prepares me for the "real world" of managing stress, anticipating glitches, and collaborating with co-workers.”  

Friday, February 28, 2014

Studying with OER is More Engaging

Stephanie D. appreciates how her teacher’s use of OER saved her from the textbook routine that she used to follow. “I have found OER to be much more engaging and convenient. Textbook readings and work always make me cringe. I never have the motivation to start which causes me to procrastinate. Once I am forced to start, I find difficulty in remaining focused and engaged. I get bored, so I put minimal effort into learning the concepts. With the OER I have found myself learning and understanding concepts way better in comparison. I don't feel that learning is as troublesome anymore since concepts are tailored to the necessary. I have found myself actually excited to learn, which is really odd to me.” Stephanie is excited that her college uses OER as a strategy to help her learn new concepts. “My views on TCC has only grown to be better. With OER I feel the teaching is more engaging and personal. It adapts to the students and really helps battle many of the bad student habits that result from textbooks. Plus, it helps with cost which is a big factor for everyone. I always hated buying books I would only use once, so courses like this are the best. I love being able to not purchase a text, and instead learn directly from the teacher themselves. I have recommended TCC to many of my peers... It has been a great experience, and one of the best decisions of my life.”

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

OER - Not Dusty

"I've gained the knowledge of a relevant, current event, instead of reading the same old dusty novel," says Gary L. of his class using OER. While the dollars saved in his English class are important to Gary, he seems to be more impressed with the inventive nature of OER in his class. He says that "TCC is very innovative and really looks at the students' needs/wants, instead of being stuck in the old traditional ways..."

As a teacher who uses OER, I want to take an editorial moment to second Gary's comment. I get a charge out of using current issues, new publications, and cool things I find in our local lives to inform my classes. When I'm teaching with OER, I have more freedom to incorporate materials that have impact on our current lives. Even more, my students get to help select our reading materials. In that way, our classroom becomes a mutual learning environment.

Thanks Gary, and welcome to "The Liberated."