This week we had the pleasure of sitting down with MBS Direct’s Publisher Relations Coordinator Jennifer Relles to discuss OER. Jennifer has been with MBS for five years and loves helping clients discover the ins and outs of OER services and low-cost digital content alternatives.
What’s an exciting way schools can utilize OER?
OER is a really great tool for personalizing a student’s education. One student might learn best from reading about the subject whereas another might respond better to a video. With OER, teachers can provide multiple avenues for a student to connect to the content.
What benefit does OER offer schools?
There are several ways OERs can enhance a student’s experience. First, they can provide savings for students who may otherwise struggle to afford expensive textbooks or course materials. Second, they can enhance the school’s reputation while keeping costs in check by offering current, high-quality supplemental materials. And third — a benefit that isn’t often discussed — they help students prep for class or follow up on their course after they are done. Students who are interested in a particular course can check out the materials before they sign up, or students who have already taken the course still have access to materials which can refresh what they learned or help them stay current on the subject matter.
What are the drawbacks with OER?
There are definitely a few challenges that come with adopting OER. Some of the resources may not be relevant or accurate. Many of the materials are only available in English; There can be cultural barriers for some students. An unreliable internet connection can make accessing the materials a challenge. There can be copywrite concerns, and many have pointed out that OER could run into sustainability issues, since the people who curate the materials do not receive any type of payment.
What advice would you give to schools?
I guess I would say that not all OER materials, or even low-cost digital alternatives, are created equally. Do a lot of research to find the solution that will be the best fit for your school. MBS Direct offers a service that schools can utilize when trying to find the best option to fit their needs. Our Digital Content Solutions Group helps simplify the experience by walking you through each step of the process.
Also, don’t be afraid to try different options for different courses or departments. Not every option will work for all subject areas.
What changes in the industry could affect the future digital offerings?
The growth in courseware is astounding. Using high-quality OER products, like Openstax, as part of “adaptive learning technology” will continue to change the shape of education in the classroom.
Adaptive learning changes with the individual student. It responds to the interactions it has with each student in real-time and provides the support students need to better understand the subject. It really is cool. There are some tools available that can adjust multiple aspects at once to better help the learner — like changing the content the student sees, changing the assessment items or even the sequencing of the material based on the individual’s understanding.
What sets MBS Direct apart from other companies?
At MBS Direct we pride ourselves on being a service company. We strive to help schools attain the quality products they request at a reasonable and competitive price. We accomplish this by offering a multitude of products in various formats and attaining new strategic partnerships with technology companies that offer low-cost alternatives to the traditional textbook.