Open educational resources, or OERs, are freely accessible, openly licensed text, media and other digital assets that are useful for teaching, learning, researching and assessing information. They include full university-level courses, complete with homework assignments and lecture notes. These digital textbooks are not just free of cost but also peer-reviewed and supported with ancillary materials. OERs are committed to providing students with affordable and quality level education at Plattsburgh State.
While originally funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, OERs are now funded by the National Science Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with other private investors.
Associate Professor of Physics Ken Podolak arrived at PSU in 2008 and has been teaching introductory physics, modern physics and solid state physics since then.
Podolak is also a contributing author to Open Stax’s university physics textbook. OpenStax is a nonprofit technology initiative based at Rice University in Houston that creates peer-reviewed, openly licensed textbooks available in free digital formats, like Kindle on Amazon or Apple Books.
“I modified my courses in order to be able to use OpenStax textbooks,” Podolak said.
“My students do just as well as using these online textbooks as they would using traditional textbooks.” Currently, most science textbooks retail for $150 to $250. Podolak also gave an educational talk on OpenStax in Houston last year.
Wanda Haby, PSU lecturer of business ethics, has also started using OpenStax textbooks in her classes.
“The response from my business ethics class has been quite positive,” Haby said. “It isn’t just a financially more sustainable decision, but it is also much more environmentally friendly.”
Business ethics is a course that teaches students about corporate social responsibility. Haby has encouraged her students to make more environmentally conscious decisions.
However, Haby also mentioned her students in a business communications class that she teaches at Clinton Community College have had a negative experience with the OpenStax textbooks. Her advice to instructors and students is to always do your own personal research on the author and textbook before committing to it, as some textbooks do lack depth.
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