How OERs Could Have Helped Me - Deb

With the release of our #TextbookBroke campaign we’ve seen stories from students all across Ontario on how the cost of textbooks are greatly affecting their educational experiences. The stories have been centered on the costs of textbooks and how students could have spent their textbook money on essentials such as groceries and rent. I’m going to focus on something a little different and try and bring to light OTHER ways Open Educational Resources (OERs) can help students succeed.

During university, I was the kind the of student who needed additional resources in order to fully grasp a subject. Simply sitting in the classroom and listening to a lecture was not enough for me. I was jealous of my friends who could just attend class, read the textbook once, and get amazing grades. After some time (and a couple of failed midterms later), I finally learned what worked best for me as a student: practicing course materials by completing assignments and tests (aka the text at the beginning and end of textbook chapters that everybody skips past).

I am what you call a kinaesthetic learner. I like to look at the big picture of things and grasp concepts through mind-maps and making connections. In short, I like to learn through activities. As a kinaesthetic learner, searching for the answers through my textbook or lecture notes, helped me make connections from classroom topics to real-life scenarios. The more I practiced class concepts, the better my grades became.

Unfortunately for me, not every textbook or course material had these kinds of tests and assignments. I would spend hours on end searching online through the publisher websites and other university websites to find the resources I needed. I actually spent more time looking for ways to help me study than actually studying. The resources I needed to succeed were not always available to me through my professors or course materials.

Although the concept of OERs is still in the process of awareness and adoption, it’s important to recognize that OERs aren’t just open “textbooks.” OERs also include modules, tests, and other educational materials used to support access to knowledge. Not all students learn the same way. Not all students can read a textbook, listen to a lecture, and ace the material. Most course materials list include: textbook(s) and if you’re unfortunate, an access code in order to take tests mandatory for your grades.

As you talk to your peers and instructors about OERs this week and in the upcoming weeks, don’t forget to highlight the other benefits, not purely financial, of adopting open resources. As a student, I would have benefited greatly from open textbooks, but access to additional online resources would have improved my learning that much more.