Faculty Encouraged to Expand Use of Open Educational Resources

October 1, 2015 -- CNM faculty members are being encouraged to consider using free or very low-cost online Open Educational Resources (OER) for their courses and programs -- like those provided by OpenStax College – in order to provide students with a more affordable option to more expensive publisher’s textbooks.
October 01, 2015

OER comes with low restrictions on copyrights and mostly require attribution to the author(s) only.

CNM President Kathie Winograd announced in July that CNM agreed to join the OER initiative, along with many higher education institutions around the U.S.

“We are joining hundreds of other colleges and universities around the country that are either using OER or considering them,” said Kat Flies, faculty member in the School of Math, Science & Engineering. She proposed the initiative to President Winograd and CNM Vice President of Academic Affairs Sydney Gunthorpe in spring 2014 in her role as Presidential Fellow for Instructional Technology. Her message was that too many CNM students have financial challenges that often cause them to delay or stop their pursuit of a degree or certificate, and Open Educational Resources could provide some financial relief for students.

“Lessening the burden of textbook costs could make a difference for our students, particularly since some science books, for instance, can cost $200-$300 each,” Flies said. “Book costs for one term at CNM can run $1,200, which represents six months to a year’s worth of groceries for our students.”

OpenStax College, which is affiliated with Rice University, is just one of the many online sites that offer free OER for colleges. So far, it offers core-level textbooks in physics, biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, math, statistics, history, sociology, psychology and economics, with more to come. These free online textbooks meet scope and sequence requirements for most courses and are peer-reviewed texts written by faculty from various colleges and universities.

OpenStax books can be accessed via the web or downloaded in various formats and on various device types. They can also be purchased as hard copies at a significantly lower price than any publisher’s book on the market. OpenStax books can be used for turnkey learning or can be customized to the faculty member’s teaching approach.

Many colleges and universities have either begun to adopt OER or have an official OER initiative, like CNM. Examples of universities across the country that use OpenStax College books include the University of New Mexico, University of Texas, Arizona State University, Princeton University, University of Colorado, University of California-Davis, Pennsylvania State University, Virginia Tech and more. For an entire list of schools that are using OpenStack, click here.

“My goal for this OER initiative is to merely make our faculty aware of what is available for students for free or at a much lower cost without many copyrights,” Flies said. “I want faculty to be aware of their options. By no means will faculty be mandated to use OER or OpenStax books. CNM is just trying to make faculty aware of how expensive books are.”

Click here to read more about OpenStax College. For a list of additional OER resources that cover many disciplines, contact Flies at .