Psychology professor brings passion for OER to role in pilot award program

Psychology professor and Academic Senate president Mark Kelland started giving his textbook away free to students before he ever heard of open educational resources.

He wrote a textbook for his personality class, and after various struggles with different publishers, he self-published. He sold the book for $20 on Amazon, but he noticed the bookstore was selling used, out-of-date editions of the book for $70.

“Finally I thought, ‘Why am I letting the bookstore make all this money on the backs of my students when I’m not getting any of that money?’” Kelland said. “I decided to just give my book away free to my students at LCC.”

When he learned about OER, Kelland changed the license on his book and made it available to anyone online. With the commitment of faculty like Kelland, LCC is a leader in OER, which are educational materials in the public domain or with open licenses. This gives any person in the world free access to the materials and permission to retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the contents.

LCC’s OER project started with five faculty using OER in five courses in fall 2015. As of September 2017, LCC has saved its students $1,081,700 in textbook costs through OER, and 74 faculty teaching in 27 courses representing 150 sections use OER at LCC.

The college is committed to getting more faculty engaged in creating, remixing and using OER. Faculty are invited to submit an application for the OER Pilot Award Program, which provides grants to begin using OER in the classroom. Applications will be accepted until Jan. 8, 2018, for spring 2019 implementation. Award options include:

  • Category 1 – Adoption of Existing OER
  • Category 2 – Revise/Remix/Creation of Supplementary Materials
  • Category 3 – Creation and Development of New OER materials

Please consider applying for any of the above categories, especially if you are teaching a high-enrollment course.

The benefits of OER go beyond saving students cash, Kelland said.

“It connects me with the students in a way a book off the shelf never would,” he said. “That’s the other big advantage of OER. If you’re doing some of the creation, even if you take an OpenStax textbook, if you go to the effort to incorporate your own material, it comes across in a different way. … If you really embrace OER, and put your own writing in the book, then that book becomes the class’ book. It becomes you and them.”

One of Kelland’s former students agreed.

“A free textbook is always a bonus, concerning finances,” student Jeannie Klaczynski said. “However, I especially liked that this one was written by the professor. I feel that this made the lecture in comparison to the reading material more fluent. It also made it easier for the professor to answer questions specific to the textbook.”

As Academic Senate president, Kelland is involved in the OER Pilot Award Committee and is an advocate for OER across campus. He said he hears two primary lines of resistance to OER from faculty. One concern, he said, is totally valid: Sometimes quality OER just does not yet exist in a subject area. The other concern, he said, has limited validity.

“The one that I go back and forth on is the ancillaries,” he said. “More and more, overheads, test banks (and) PowerPoints are becoming available through OER. … It’s becoming less valid but still debatable to say, ‘Well, the OER fundamentals are out there, but I don’t have all the extra stuff.’ When I started, you didn’t get any of the extra stuff, and you made do.”

The OER Pilot Award Program does provide an award option for faculty to develop supplemental materials around an existing OER textbook, ensuring faculty have the opportunity to be paid for their work developing ancillary materials.

Kelland said this pilot award program is part of his passion as Senate president.

“If, in 10 years I’m retiring, and Guided Pathways and OER are simply the culture at LCC, I’ll say, ‘OK, I actually made a difference.’”

Learn more at libguides.lcc.edu/oer/award. If you have questions, please contact OER project manager Regina Gong at gongr1@lcc.edu or x1663.