A guest blog post by Tasha Williams, formerly an English instructor and currently the Tutoring Services Coordinator.
Due to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing and prospective Leeward students face unprecedented challenges with online learning and have many questions. As the 2021 OER Leeward OER Creation Incentive Award recipient, I’ve created a 10-part video series to assist students with navigating online learning during the pandemic and beyond.
I designed this project due to my interactions with students in online classrooms and tutoring services. They have encountered new academic, financial, and emotional difficulties due to the challenges of writing in online environments. The pandemic has exacerbated many socio-economic challenges, and this equitable and inclusive approach addresses topics students face who are affected by the digital divide.
With a focus on online and hybrid writing classrooms, the series aims to help students who are grappling with developing their writing skills amid the ongoing fallout of the pandemic. The video series can assist ENG 100 students and instructors with the following:
Write a structured academic essay
Analyze and apply text(s) to logically support an argument
Apply reading, writing, and critical thinking strategies in other contexts
Apply study skills to improve learning
It was a great collaboration with the EMC! This was my first venture into recording educational videos. Camden and his video production team were really insightful and helpful throughout the whole process. You can access the series playlist on the Leeward Writing Center’s YouTube channel or click the links to the individual videos below. They are licensed CC BY-NC so feel free to use them.
My experience developing OER has changed the way I teach and interact with learning materials. I teach classes in botany and agriculture and finding materials that are relevant for Hawai‘i can be a challenge. Teaching these subjects through local examples and incorporating content relevant to Hawai‘i makes learning more relevant to my students.
I started out by just wanting one of my classes to be textbook cost zero (TXT0), which meant the library purchased an electronic copy of the book I was using that students could access for free. This was the only book available for native Hawaiian plants and ecosystems. The main issue was the language used was not very accessible and most of my students were not using the materials. After attending an OER workshop sponsored by our library I got inspired to give OER a try.
In the Spring of 2020 I was a recipient of the Leeward OER Award for a team project with Paula Mejia Velasquez, to create the OER textbook “Botany in Hawaii”. At that moment I thought I could remix some existing OER materials that were available online. Unfortunately, most of the botany materials were not specific to Hawai‘i and it quickly became clear that it would be better to write all 10 chapters from scratch. The intention of the project was to localize the botany materials and make them more relevant and enticing to students.
There are many things that I can talk about regarding this experience producing this OER book. For this blog post I want to focus on the part of the experience that I most enjoyed. One thing I was not expecting is that it would be hard to find illustrations and photos with an open license we could use in the project. Creating illustrations is something I was familiar with, but I I didn’t know how much work it was going to take for a project like this. Learning new software and techniques to make things look good were super challenging, but that’s something I really enjoyed and would like to continue improving on. I think that having illustrations that are locally based make a huge difference for the kind of teaching I do. I think our students can relate to the materials better and become more interested in the subject.
Here is an example of an illustration I put together using a plant that is found in Hawai‘i. After collecting a fresh hau flower, I took it to the lab where I photographed a step by step dissection. Then I used software to do the post editing and add labels. So now my students can learn the terminology related to flowers with a local example.
Here is another example of an illustration that I put together for the stems chapter using a variety of kalo that was grown in the gardens at Leeward. In the text, we include a linkto an illustration using Hawaiian language and knowledge.
I feel really thankful to all the nature photographers that gave me permission to use their images. And to those who release their illustrations through Wikicommons which can be used and adapted by anyone. To highlight the need of sharing resources through an open license, take a look at the example below of an illustration that was put together using my photos as well as photos by other photographers. If you want to make a difference in the OER world, consider sharing your photos with an open license on sites like Flickr or Wikicommons. Photos of everything (not only plants) can be used by those working on OER projects in different disciplines.
A lot of people donated their time to peer review this book. From Leeward CC: Alyssa MacDonald, Annemarie Paikai, Kalei Laimana, Bruce Koebele and Chai Blair-Stahn reviewed the chapters and provided a lot of feedback that we used to improve things. Our library and EMC staff supported me in this long road towards having good OER materials for my classes.
Working with OER is powerful because you can create free materials that can be constantly adapted and improved. My students have also reacted positively which validates my reasons for embarking on this journey in creating local OER materials relevant to Hawai‘i that captures and shares its beauty and uniqueness through the botany lens.
Paula Mejia Velasquez
Creating our Botany OER textbook, “Botany in Hawaii,” has been quite an adventure, one that we hope will provide students with more relatable class materials and access to a more affordable education. In my case, I have converted all my classes to be textbook free for several years now by adopting OER textbooks. I got the inspiration for this from several of the OER workshops offered at Leeward CC. For several years I remixed and modified available OER materials from different sources to tailor them to the specific needs of each one of my classes. Given that there are not many OER Botany textbooks available, at one point I came to the realization that I was creating and modifying a considerable portion of the content instead of just mixing materials. In addition, most Botany textbooks (conventional and OER) often use examples from the mainland, showcasing plants that students have never seen or even heard of, which make them not very relevant to my classes, or even the islands. This is when I teamed up with Daniela to create a Botany textbook that would be focused on Hawaiian plants, presenting examples of local plants and ecosystems, and aiming to better connect our local students to Botany.
Last year, Daniela and I received the Leeward OER Creation Award, and we decided that instead of just remixing and modifying existing OER materials, we would take on the endeavor of developing an original Hawai’i-centric Botany textbook. The journey of creating an OER textbook from scratch has not only been an interesting academic exercise but also an undoubtedly time-taxing venture. As with most side projects, we ended up working crazy hours and trying to carve time from our busy schedules. We are deeply grateful to our colleagues that helped us by reviewing the book: Alyssa MacDonald, Annemarie Paikai, Bruce Koebele, Chai Blair-Stahn and Kalei Laimana, Miles Thomas, as well as to the staff at the Leeward CC library and EMC, and LibreTexts that have supported us in the process.
I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to better communicate the sometimes perceived as “dry” scientific topics in an engaging and approachable language suitable for our students and classes. I have a newly found respect for the science communicators that can make the most advanced scientific findings not only easy to understand, but also seem so cool and appreciated by the general public.
To anybody interested in OER, I would say that one of the biggest virtues of creating, mixing or using OER materials is that they are not immutable products, on the contrary, they can continuously be adapted, improved and tailored to meet the specific need in your classes. There are many possibilities, as you can adopt an OER textbook, or select only chapters or sections of interest, or mix chapters/sections from different textbooks, or even create your own OER materials. It does not matter which route you go, the main idea is to be able to offer free high quality, relevant, relatable and novel materials to our students so that they can achieve their educational goals regardless of their socioeconomic background.
The following awards have been designed to recognize Leeward CC instructors’ use or creation of Open Educational Resources (OER) or designing renewable assignments. Funds for these programs have been provided by the Office of the Vice President for Community Colleges at the University of Hawai’i.
Join the 2018 OER award recipients to hear more about their projects, the awards, and how to apply at the TGIF session on Friday, February 22, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. in BE 104.
Congratulations to P. Jayne Bopp!
The Leeward Open Educator Award is an annual award which seeks to recognize faculty who promote or contribute to a culture of utilizing Open Educational Resources (OER) in the classroom. Award amount: $500.
Jayne has designated eight (8) of her classes as Textbook Cost: $0. She has saved students over $132,600.
Jayne’s OER journey included adopting an existing open textbook and openly licensing resources for four classes. She created two new resources where none existed before and openly licensed this content for others to use. Jayne created an OER activity for Sociology of the Family by adapting existing OER, applying a Creative Commons license to it, and sharing the modified OER in the UH OER Repository. Jayne also shared her experiences in a video produced by the Educational Media Center (EMC) and served as a guest speaker on a panel with Michelle Igarashi. Finally, Jayne participated in an OpenStax pilot test for Concept Coach, a homework tool for their introduction to sociology textbook. Jayne is a true champion for OER at Leeward.
Congratulations to Erika Molyneux and Rachael Inake!
In a partnership between instructor and instructional designer, the goal of the LDORA is to create a renewable assignment based on the principles of OER-Enabled Pedagogy which are designed to be used with specific open educational resources. Award amount: $250 each.
Erika and Rachael created a renewable assignment for Digital Art. The renewable assignment had students create “how-to” videos on creating media using Photoshop. The student tutorials were licensed under Creative Commons and uploaded to a YouTube playlist. The playlist was linked to the instructor’s class modules. The tutorials are openly available to current students, future students, and the community. Erika and Rachael’s renewable assignment is available for others to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute under CC BY 4.0.
Congratulations to Kelsie Aguilera!
The goal of the LOERCA is to develop original OER materials where none exists or revise and remix existing OER with the addition of original content. Award amount: $3000.
Kelsie is serving as the managing editor and author of a high-quality, open access biological anthropology textbook with 100% original written content that will be written and peer-reviewed by experts in the field. It is the first of its kind and slated to be ready for use in Fall 2019. The edited book will be available free of charge under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 International License and housed on a website administered by the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges (SACC), a professional anthropology organization that is part of the American Anthropological Association. In addition, this edited book will be made available on the University of Hawaii Open Educational Resources (OER) Repository and may be uploaded to UH Pressbooks.
Apply for the 2019 OER Awards
If you are interested in applying for this year’s awards, visit the OER Award Programs and apply online. Deadline: March 15, 2019.
More at the TGIF Session
If you’d like to hear more or have questions, the OER awardees will be sharing and answering questions at an upcoming TGIF session on Friday, February 22, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. in BE 104.
The following post is written by Cara Chang, Leeward CC English Instructor.
This semester (Fall 2018) is my first semester teaching and piloting a new OER textbook for English 209: Business Writing. Prior to teaching the class, I found two possible OER textbooks for my class on OER Commons. The first textbook was Business Writing by Lumen Learning and the second textbook was Business Communication for Success from Open Textbook Library. I found both books to have important information; the Business Writing textbook focused more on writing skills and concepts while the Business Communication for Success text focused more on oral communication. I also noticed that there was some overlap in the content in both textbooks; in fact, some of the chapters in both textbooks were exactly the same. As I started thinking about what textbook I wanted my students to use, it became apparent that both textbooks had something to offer. Though most of the SLOs in the course focused on writing skills, one of ENG 209’s SLOs mentioned delivering an oral report, which my students would be doing for their final assignment. Therefore, I figured it would be helpful for my students to have access to material on both written and oral communication skills.
In April and May of 2018, I attended a workshop led by UH OER Technologist, Billy Meinke, who shared about Pressbooks, which is a simple e-book production software. He shared an example of a UH Mānoa Nutrition textbook, which had used Pressbooks, and I really liked the appearance, layout, and clean look of the textbook. I also liked how compatible and easily accessible the textbook was on my phone since I knew that would mean that students could also easily access the textbook. I also learned that some OER materials could be easily imported into Pressbooks, which would mean that I would not necessarily need to create material from scratch.
I spent July and August creating the textbook for the business writing class. After planning the course schedule and looking through the two OER textbooks, I decided what information I wanted to include and exclude. I ended up keeping information from both books and combining both textbooks into one textbook while organizing the information in an easy to understand way. I was able to do this quite easily by importing one textbook into Pressbooks, but I wasn’t able to do this for the other textbook, which I ended up copying, pasting, and organizing in a cohesive manner. The book starts with general content surrounding communication, covers the writing process and types of business writing, narrows down to specific writing rules and conventions, and concludes with presentations. Lastly, I made a cover page for my textbook and named the textbook Business Writing for Success, which is a combination of both of the textbook titles.
Overall, I liked working with Pressbooks. It seemed fairly easy to use, and the layout was visually appealing and organized. Furthermore, it seemed to be easily accessible for my students. When I finished creating the textbook, I included the textbook as an external website link in Laulima. My students seem to like the textbook. They like that they don’t have to pay for a textbook and that all of the course materials are located in Laulima. To be honest, I’m not sure they really utilized the textbook as much as I hoped. However, they did have group presentations on how to give presentations where each group was required to read and present on an assigned chapter in the book. I plan to have them take a survey regarding the textbook at the end of the semester, so I know how to better improve it.
While teaching the course and using the book for the first time, I came to realize how I would like to revise the textbook to make it better. As I progressed through the semester, I realized that there was not enough business writing examples for my students. I ended up creating examples for my students that we would view, discuss, and critique in class. Furthermore, I also realized that there are possible chapters I would like to add in the textbook. For example, I had my business writing students create a website and blog in class, and I needed to find external websites for students to read to assist them in this process. Finally, there is room for creating and curating more lectures/videos for students who wish for supplemental materials.
In conclusion, I learned a lot from creating an OER textbook using Pressbooks. It was user friendly and allowed enough customization for my needs. I would definitely consider utilizing Pressbooks to create another OER textbook in the future if I need to, and I invite other faculty members to participate in this valuable experience, as well.
The following post is written by Kelsie Aguilera, Leeward CC OER Creation Award Winner for 2018
Last semester, I was honored (and thrilled!) to receive the Leeward OER Creation Award (LOERCA). The goal of the LOERCA is to develop original OER materials where none exists or revise and remix existing OER with the addition of original content. I highly recommend applying for one of the many Leeward CC OER Award programs when the application periods open up again this coming spring semester; they are a great way to stay motivated and focused while transitioning to or developing OER.
I was graciously awarded the LOERCA in recognition of the following project I am working on: I, along with a team of three other managing editors, am developing a high-quality, open access biological anthropology textbook with 100% original written content that will be written and peer-reviewed by experts in the field—a project that will be the first of its kind and slated to be ready for use in Fall 2019. This edited book will be available free of charge under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 International License and housed on a website administered by the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges (SACC), a professional anthropology organization that is part of the American Anthropological Association. In addition, this edited book can be made available on the University of Hawaii Open Educational Resources (OER) Repository and can be uploaded to UH Pressbooks. We finally decided on a title for our book, Explorations: An Open Invitation to Biological Anthropology.
The idea for this projected originated at the 2017 SACC conference in Boise, Idaho. On the bus to an archaeological site, I was chatting with an anthropologist from the California State University system about how great it would be if there were an OER textbook for biological anthropology. After the conference, when we got back home to our respective institutions, rather than just ignore our big idea, we decided to take action and make this textbook a reality. It is so exciting to be where we are now with the project. Over 25 expert authors have submitted chapters for our book, some of whom are big names in anthropology. And dozens more are supporting us as reviewers, illustrators, or designers. We are also fortunate that money will not be a problem for our project; we were quickly awarded the first grant we applied for, a $25,000 Innovation Grant from Minnesota State. If you decide to take on an OER project, no matter at what scale, you might be surprised at the tremendous support you will receive from Leeward CC and your larger communities. For example, receiving the LOERCA was unexpected but much appreciated. As a managing editor and author of this textbook, the Leeward CC OER Award program is supporting the countless hours I have put in to make this textbook for our students.
Although the cost savings to students is obvious, I want to mention another important contribution that our project will make. In the field of biological anthropology, there are less than a handful of “classic” introductory biological anthropology textbooks, some of which are now in their double-digit edition. While I certainly received a solid education as an undergraduate via one of these “classic” textbooks, in what ways are we limiting the voices that teach by privileging the voices of a select few? How many generations of anthropology students have been taught by the same voices with the same perspectives? Our textbook challenges this model by providing our students with a fresh multiplicity of voices, many of which have been traditionally underrepresented in biological anthropology textbooks. OER democratizes not only who gets to learn but also who gets to teach.
Lastly, a note of encouragement for those who are considering transitioning to or developing OER. The first step is always the most daunting but you don’t have to take that first step alone! There are so many resources at Leeward to assist you along the way. Don’t be shy in reaching out to the Educational Media Center, Library, OER Campus Committee, or me!