Open Scholarship Café: E-textbook emergency - OER to the rescue?
From Hardy Schwamm
Recording of our Open Scholarship Café on 9th June 2023
Students in Galway and elsewhere are at an ever-sharpening point of an affordability crisis that threatens their education. The fatalistic common-place that ‘students don’t buy their textbooks’ or required readings conceals the fact that among those who ‘don’t’ are those who don’t because they can’t - and the latter can only be growing in number. Students’ ability to purchase textbooks declines as affordable accommodation options shrink and the price of groceries grow and grow; students who can’t access education resources are at a disadvantage. Can Open Educational Resources (OER) help make sure that all students have access to essential learning materials like textbooks?
The speakers of the session:
1. Ronán Kennedy (University of Galway Library, Head of Collections): #ebooksos – a primer
The academic ebook market has long been a cause for concern due to market manipulation, excessive pricing and exploitation of events such as COVID-19. #ebooksos was conceived as a call for action to investigate the academic ebook market and has gathered international momentum. This paper will give a brief overview of the rationale behind #ebooksos, as well as offering suggestions for alternative routes to academic content provision in teaching, learning and research.
2. Marguerita McGovern (University of Galway Lecturer, School of Political Science & Sociology): 'Lights, camera, action!' Extending the brief. - The use of videos and podcasts within eBooks.
The making of an E-book series for Social Work students that helps them to see beyond the written text and experience the spoken word of professionals in their field of expertise.
3. Jacqueline Murphy (University of Galway, Lecturer School of Political Science and Sociology): Opening the Sociological Imagination
Creating an open textbook for first-year sociological students. The aim of this project is to use education technology to create an accessible and interactive learning object. This talk will focus on two interconnected themes- the capacity of OER to promote equity and inclusivity in Irish Education whilst being mindful of the importance of building critical analysis skills so students can question, evaluate and analyze the sea of information available to them.
Among their other uses – they make use of open licenses allowing them to be revised and remixed - OER are free to use and redistribute, suggesting themselves as possible strategies in addressing overlapping crises of affordability in higher education. The COVID-era shift to online, for example, included a rapid shift towards ebooks from print textbooks. While useful in overcoming the limitations of print, this shift has exposed weaknesses in prevailing models of ebook provision – including runaway inflation in terms of ebook and ebook platform pricing and license terms that are not favourable in terms of providing reliable, equitable access to students. These factors have put pressure on university libraries and their budgets, with attendant knock-on effects for staff and students who depend on these learning resources for their studies and for their student success.