Transformation at Scale: A Departmental Effort to Adopt and Develop IT Open Educational Resources

Transformation at Scale: A Departmental Effort to Adopt and Develop IT Open Educational Resources

Jack Zheng (Kennesaw State University, USA), Zhigang Li (Kennesaw State University, USA), Lei Li (Kennesaw State University, USA) and Rebecca Rutherfoord (Kennesaw State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1200-5.ch003
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This chapter summarizes a unique department-wide effort in the adoption, development, implementation, and assessment of open educational resources (OER) for a wide range of information technology courses. The chapter presents the development principles and practices at four levels: OER-driven pedagogies, OER adoption and development, course design/review cycle, and department/program level coordination. The chapter also provides an overview of the OER features and adoption in the computing and IT field.
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Since the release of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) 2012 Paris OER declaration (UNESCO, 2012), the awareness and use of free learning materials and open educational resources have been gaining traction (Wang & Towey, 2017), both in industry and educational institutions. The phenomenon is particularly evident in the computing and information technology (IT) disciplines. This trend has been largely driven by two factors: 1) the high cost of textbooks, and, 2) the availability and quality of more open and free learning materials.

The primary motivation for OER adoption is the decreased cost for students to obtain a degree (Arinto, Hodgkinson-Williams, King, Cartmill, & Willmers, 2017; Baker, 2009; Wiley, Green, & Soares, 2012; Wiley, Hilton, Ellington, & Hall, 2012). The rising costs of higher education have placed greater financial burdens on college students to finish their degree programs on time (Ludgate et al., 2013). One significant portion of the college expenditure is the textbook cost. The college board (2019) estimated an in-state full-time undergraduate student at a four-year public college spends approximately $1,298 yearly on books-and-supplies. The cost of textbooks has increased significantly in the past a couple of decades. For example, while the consumer price index of educational books and supplies for all urban consumers has increased from 469 in February 2009 to 693 in February 2019 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019), the average cost of college textbooks has risen four times faster than the inflation rate from 2008 to 2018 (Kristof, 2018).

A related problem of many traditional textbooks is their relevancy and currency. Perceived value of the text decreases as the textbook falls out of relevancy and currency. This is especially true in the computing discipline where curricula content is constantly changing with innovations, technology updates, and new development (Rutherfoord et al., 2006, Li et al., 2006). Existing course content has to be regularly updated, outdated courses need to be removed, and frequently new courses have to be developed and added to the curriculum. The dynamic nature of the computing discipline doesn’t work well with the traditional textbook writing-publishing cycle which often spans more than a year. As a result, faculty often have to create content on the latest development of technologies to supplement the textbook used in a course or even develop the entire content for a course that may be too new to have an available textbook.

Influenced by the open source culture, many IT learning materials have been made free or open under various types of licenses. These resources cover almost every major subject area in the IT discipline. They are often created and updated by professional content developers with added interactivity and social/community additions. Compared to traditional textbooks, these free and open online resources have many benefits: they are generally free to use; they are constantly being updated to reflect the latest trends and industry development; and, they can provide more interactivity than traditional textbooks.

Given the challenges traditional textbooks face, the adoption of Open Educational Resources (OER) has gained major support in the academic community, growing from individual efforts to institutional programs. One significant example is the Affordable Learning Georgia (ALG) Textbook Transformation Grants sponsored by the University System of Georgia. As noted by Baker (2009), the primary motivation for OER adoption is the decreased cost for students to obtain a degree. The primary focus of the ALG grants is to reduce the costs of textbooks for college/university students in the state of Georgia.

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