Community Colleges | Feature
Lane CC's Award-Winning Faculty Development Program for OER Adoption
A Q & A with Jen Klaudinyi
The high cost of traditional textbooks has been recognized as a likely roadblock to student success and is one of the reasons institutions are looking at the adoption of open education resources. But converting a course for OER can be a challenge for instructors. Lane Community College's OER Faculty Fellowship program offers both incentives and support for faculty adoption of OER. The college's ongoing OER adoption work of five years earned it a WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award this fall.
Mary Grush: How did the OER Faculty Fellowship at Lane Community College begin, and what has your role been?
Jen Klaudinyi: I am the current lead and have been for the past three years. But, I didn't actually start the program. About five years ago, our students got a large tuition rebate, which they were able to carve up and invest in certain places. So the Associated Students of Lane Community College, our student government body, came to our former Dean of Academic Technology, Brad Hinson, with concerns about textbook affordability. It's a big issue for our students that can be a barrier to learning. In fact, many students choose not to buy the [hard copy] textbooks, and they have a different experience in class due to that.
Out of the students' conversations with the dean came the idea of developing an open education resources community on this campus, which appealed to the students, so they invested a pretty good chunk of the tuition rebate towards faculty development and incentives to foster the adoption of OER. That's how the fellowship was born. Another faculty member, Velda Arnaud, led the first round, incentivizing faculty with an iPad, to drop their textbooks and adopt OER. I came on board for the second round and developed a model that allowed instructors to participate asynchronously and to document their process along the way.
Grush: What were your goals?
Klaudinyi: The goals were to (1) reduce textbook costs for students, (2) create an OER community on campus and try to get some advocates within the disciplines and departments who could share their experiences, and (3) be transparent, because this was student money.
Grush: What are some of the ways the faculty participate — and how do they function as a community?
Klaudinyi: It's really hard to get our busy instructors to meet face to face, and so we set up a program that both incentivizes them to drop the textbooks and recognizes their progress. At the heart of the program is a points-based rubric they use to document their progress and earn incentive points — even if they are just starting to get involved in exploring OER. Each instructor sets up a blog, and they are encouraged to blog about their experience [https://blogs.lanecc.edu/oer/]. The instructors' blogs are syndicated to a central OER@Lane blog. The program also allows them to take advantage of workshops and classes on our campus as well as the many materials, webinars, and tutorials you can find online about OER.
Grush: How would you characterize the faculty's response to this program, and are some groups more involved than others at this point?
Klaudinyi: There's a core of faculty who come to the workshops, they experiment, we see them in our Academic Technology Center regularly, and they are thoughtful and engaged. So we have begun with a core of innovative instructors and we've worked with many of the early adopters on campus. We've also been able to reach out with that message about textbook affordability, which does resonate with instructors in general.
Now, I'm thinking of other models that will engage discipline teams — my hope is that we can use the community that we've built and the advocates we have to move a little further. We may target some shared, high-enrollment courses… We may come up with ways that allow some people who aren't as comfortable with development to adopt courses that are already developed… There are many ways we can branch out to new populations here on campus. So my next intention is to look at discipline teams who will internally and collaboratively build open courses and make OER selections that make sense for their own curriculum.
Grush: How do you interact with faculty who aren't quite ready to commit to dropping textbooks, at least not yet?
Klaudinyi: Every term I try to give some workshops that are open to the entire campus community, whether you want to commit to being part of the fellowship or not. Different events, including luncheons, help introduce people to OER, and there are hours where they can come experiment with OER, with some guidance. We've also designed the rubric so that people can dabble and experiment at first, if that's their choice. They still earn points. If they finally get to 100 points, they've either converted or they are close. So yes, people can build over time.
Grush: Beyond the economic considerations for students, are faculty reporting new pedagogical advantages from moving to OER?
Klaudinyi: I've heard that from lots of faculty who have gone through the fellowship. Usually at first they are interested in helping students save money, and a few may be somewhat dissatisfied with their textbooks. But at the end of the process, instructors say the transition to OER has forced them to reconnect with their learning objectives. They are basically redesigning their course, so they begin by asking what they want students to be able to learn, and then they find or create OER to support their learning objectives.
Grush: Has the adoption of OER affected assessment?
Klaudinyi: Different instructors approach assessment in different ways. But by necessity there is a lot of redevelopment that has to go into a course with the adoption of OER. Lots of instructors have been through this, and I think they have improved the assessment structure of their courses. And while I have seen a lot of great assessment work going on, through the blog posts and through my discussions and work with instructors, I would like in the future to expand on the assessment work that's already going on, and do some overarching assessment work, which might include some experimentation comparing a textbook-free course with the text version of the course.
Grush: As traditional publishers struggle to redefine their approach to the higher education market, is there a place for new tools and resources they develop — perhaps along with OER?
Klaudinyi: While the incentive points on the rubric really address the adoption of open resources, I think that if the type of work we are doing is putting pressure on the publishing industry to rethink what they are producing, and to produce things that are more flexible and that are more affordable for students, then I think that's great. And on our campus, it's up to instructors to evaluate and adopt materials. It's their choice.
I'm a librarian and a faculty technology specialist, so I serve as a coach. If instructors come to me in terms of adoption of OER for their courses, my main motivation is to show them what's available and to help them through the process. I don't make the decisions for them — and if instructors are finding things that publishers have put out in response to the OER work that we're doing here or work done at other institutions, and those resources are more flexible and affordable, I think that's a side benefit of the work that we are doing.
Grush: What advice would you offer institutions wishing to start an OER program?
Klaudinyi: The major barrier to wide adoption on our campus and I imagine on other campuses is instructor time. Our instructors work really hard, and are very busy… It's important for me leading a project like this, to acknowledge that it takes instructors' dedication, mindfulness, and time. First, I would advise leaders at any other institution that's looking to drive a piece like this, to look at the support you can give your faculty, in terms of your development of workshops and pointing them toward other resources, and having a point person who is able to serve as a coach. And the second area is incentives — while the iPad we offer [to instructors who have reached a certain level of incentive points] doesn't compensate for all of the time they have to put in to develop their curriculum and convert their courses, it’s at least a recognition of that hard work, which I think is important.