Bay holds ‘Free the Textbooks’ rally

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Bay College Director of Online Learning Joseph Mold stands in front of a banner promoting Bay’s implementation of open educational resources (OER) Wednesday. Bay’s third annual “Free the Textbooks OER Rally” was held in the Hub, located in the college’s Student Success Center, that day.

ESCANABA — People studying and working at Bay College had an opportunity to learn about open educational resources (OER) by attending the college’s third annual Free the Textbooks OER Rally Wednesday. The event took place in the Hub, located in Bay’s Student Success Center.

The goal of the rally is to educate Bay’s students, faculty, and staff about what OER are and to help students register for courses this winter (including those that utilize OER), Director of Online Learning Joseph Mold said. A pizza lunch and games with prizes were also provided at the event.

OER are Creative Commons-licensed alternatives to publisher-provided textbooks, software and other materials, Mold said. Most of these materials are free digitally and available at a very low cost in print form.

Mold said Bay’s OER program began in 2016, when the college received an Achieving the Dream grant. Bay’s OER grant will be wrapping up in the near future. “Officially, (in) December, the grant will conclude,” he said.

However, Bay has done what it needed to do with the grant.

“We were required to produce enough courses for an associate of arts degree that used open educational resources,” Mold said.

According to Mold, the college achieved this goal shortly after its second year of involvement with the grant.

“We were one of the first community colleges to receive the grant to complete our pathway with open educational resources,” he said.

Currently, about 35 courses at Bay use OER. Since 2016, over 200 sections have used these resources instead of traditional textbooks, and Bay students have saved a total of $600,000 in this time period.

Mold said the adoption of OER at Bay has had a positive effect on student performance, as well.

“We’ve seen a lot of success from students using (OER),” he said, noting classes where OER are in use have had higher C-or-better rates and lower withdrawal rates.

He also spoke about the ease of access associated with OER.

“It’s giving students access to their course content on the first day for free online,” Mold said. Additionally, students can buy print versions of OER in Bay’s bookstore; these are usually available for $40 or less.

Lindsey McCann, a Bay sophomore who uses OER in her Calculus III class, said she likes being able to access her course materials online.

“It’s nice to not carry books around, and there’s still paper copies … available, but way cheaper than normal textbooks,” she said.

Bay junior Tonia Wilkey, who uses OER in her Anatomy and Physiology II and Medical Microbiology classes, said these materials have saved her significant amounts of money.

“It’s really nice, ’cause I don’t have to pay 200 or 300 bucks for a book that I’m only (going to) use for one semester,” she said.

While Bay’s Achieving the Dream grant for OER is ending later this year, Mold said Bay plans to continue funding the development and implementation of these resources.

“We’ve already been talking to the VP of Academics (Matt Barron), and he is in full support of continuing to support (OER) by offering stipends to faculty to adapt, adopt, and build (OER),” he said.

Mold also noted that efforts to push for the use of OER at Bay are ongoing.

“We continue to promote (OER) — we continue to encourage faculty to adopt (OER),” he said. A committee has been formed with the goal of bringing attention to OER, as well.

For more information on the use of OER at Bay College, visit www.baycollege.edu/OER.

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