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Using Open Educational Resources (OER) to Develop Tailored Textbooks

Feb 14, 2019

In response to the interests of a large number of pre-dental students at Pacific, Biology Professor Marcos Gridi-Papp created a multidisciplinary, upper-division elective course that explores the evolution, development, structure, function and some clinical aspects of the mouth, ears, nose and throat. One of his goals for the course, called "Comparative Oral+ENT Biology," was to customize the content for the students in order to facilitate their learning and motivate their engagement. "Tailoring the content to the student goes beyond lecture and permeates all aspects of the course," states Gridi-Papp. "It requires knowledge of the abilities, motivations and interests of the students." Using Open Educational Resources (OER) allowed him to develop a textbook geared towards the needs and interests of his students in the course.

Traditionally, a faculty member's ability to tailor course textbook content was limited to selection of the book to be adopted. Writing a college textbook was time-prohibitive, a task only a small number of faculty completed and it was only financially feasible when there was a market for a large number of copies. In conventional textbooks "illustration...was a major complication [too]," states Gridi-Papp, a task "demanding time and skill and usage of figures from other sources was usually prevented by copyright." But he was able to overcome all of these challenges by using OER to create a customized textbook for the course.

OER makes text book creation easy and quick. One can use text and figures from other OER sources and books can be modified easily and often. OER books can be distributed to students electronically, in online format, or printed copies can be produced on-demand, without an initial publication investment. According to Gridi-Papp, "an OER textbook can live in the professor's hard drive as a set of word files and a spreadsheet that tracks the source information for the figures. Any corrections or improvements can be published as a new edition within less than one hour." And the text can evolve along with the course throughout the professor's career.

To view an electronic version of Professor Gridi-Papp's text for the course, click here:
Gridi-Papp OER Textbook for Comparative Oral + ENT Biology. To view the main OER resources used by Dr. Gridi-Papp in his textbook see: OpenStax-CNX; Wikimedia Commons; and Open Stax Books.

For information and help with the localization, adoption or creation of OER resources, contact Tara Bunag, Senior Instructional Designer, Center for Teaching and Learning or Michele Gibney, Digital Repository Coordinator, University Libraries or visit their webpage at OER Resources at Pacific. Faculty may apply for funding to support the development of OER resources through the Technology in Education Committee (TEC). Tara Bunag (CTL) and Professor Geoff Lin-Cereghino (Biology) have made presentations about the funding and support available to faculty interested in developing OER resources. Please contact them directly if you are interested in scheduling a presentation to your school, division or department.

This article was adapted from a presentation by Marcos Gridi-Papp at the Dugoni Faculty Development Day.
For more information about Pacific faculty using OER, "Open Educational Resources pilot saves Pacific students $110,000". 

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