Champion of Open – David Head

David Head – Department of History

Describe your open educational resources and/or practices:

I use OpenStax’s U.S. History textbook. I reviewed a chapter of the text before publication, and when my history colleague Jim Clark sung the book’s praises, I decided to try it. I’ve used OpenStax since the Spring 2017 semester, although I did once try a competing OER text, American Yawp.

Over time, I’ve begun customizing the text to better suit my students’ needs. Most history textbooks overwhelm students with detail, so I cut down the chapters to cover just what I want to emphasize. With OER, that’s easy to do. I’m now planning to go a step further and write my own content to eventually replace the OpenStax book altogether so that students have a unique experience unavailable anywhere else.

Describe the impact open educational resources and/or practices has had on your teaching and/or students’ learning: 

In addition to saving students money, an OER text ensures students always have access to the materials they need. There are no disruptions at the beginning of the semester as some students wait for access to their financial aid, and in the COVID spring of 2020, no special steps were needed: the chapters were already posted online. Having the text available any time reduces missed assignments, which lowers the number of DFW grades. Students appreciate the benefits. They regularly cite the ease of access in their course evaluations.

What is one piece of advice for other faculty interested in OER/P?

Try it: you can’t beat free!

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