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SCoer! Awards go to five faculty members

 

Five recipients of the inaugural SCoer! Faculty Award have been selected and are on their way to learning more about using Open Educational Resources (OER) in their classrooms. The awards are sponsored by Student Government and the University Libraries.

The SCoer! Faculty Award encourages the use of freely available, high-quality online materials in the classroom. Its first winners are USC faculty members Nathan Carnes, Education; Darin Freeburg, Library and Information Science, shown in first photo below; Sherry Grosso, Business; Linda Hazlett, Public Health, shown in second photo below; and R. Mac Jones, Extended University and Palmetto College.

To participate in the new award program, these faculty members will attend a one-hour workshop hosted by the University Libraries that will help them identify OER materials for their courses. They then will write a review of an Open Access textbook and decide if they will use the book in a course. Each will receive a certificate and a $200 monetary award. Later this year, they will be asked to complete a short follow-up survey. The award recipients were selected by Student Government representatives and members of the University Libraries’ Scholarly Communications Committee.

 “The selection committee looked closely at three determining factors: applicants who showed a lot of desire to learn the process of finding and using online educational resources, the potential for long-term financial savings for students, and the availability of OER materials on the subject taught,” said Amie Freeman, Assistant Interlibrary Loan Librarian at University Libraries and Chair of the Libraries’ new Scholarly Communications Committee. “Our congratulations go to these five recipients who are all passionate about using OER materials in their courses.”

Faculty who are not familiar with OER textbooks and other materials may not know that they are quality resources, Freeman explained.

“Typically, faculty members at an institution are paid to write them, and they are peer reviewed and often government funded. This is certainly true of the Open Textbook Library supported by the University of Minnesota, and OpenStax, supported by Rice University, the Gates Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation. And when OER materials are created, they are often created for lower-level, high-enrollment courses, where textbooks cost $300 to $400 each.”

Using OER materials is clearly a win for faculty and a win for students.

“I can never find a textbook that completely fits my needs, so I have always thought open resources would be a great idea. I am also very open to ANY idea that would save my students money,” explained award recipient Hazlett in her application.

“This fall, Professor Hazlett will teach four sections of a course that enrolls 50 students in each section,” Freeman explained. “A total of 200 students must purchase a required text that varies in price from $48.45 to $107.65. If her students had access to a free textbook, the cost savings for them would be substantial.”

Current plans are to offer the SCoer! Award once a year, Freeman said. The next award cycle will be Spring 2016.