Monica Roth Day is a social work faculty member at Metropolitan State University.
Can you briefly describe your OER Learning Circle project?
Social work research is a class which is notoriously difficult to teach; students come with anxiety around research and statistics concepts and consider research to be an outlier in regard to social work knowledge and skills. My course redesign project in the OER Learning Circles revised the social work research courses using the e-resource Scientific Inquiry in Social Work by Matthew DeCarlo. I paired it with D2L Brightspace to create a seamless system for student learning and instructor assessment of that learning.
The motivation for the course redesign was to provide content and activities (case studies, word maps, and others) to best support student engagement. Use of e-resources and related learning activities helps dispel the negative emotions and helps students value their own learning, assess their progress, and understand the meaning of research in the social work field.
What was your first experience with OER?
I first became aware of OERs while working at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at UW – Superior, in researching options to make textbooks more accessible and useful to students. After reviewing results of research studies on OER, I quickly was convinced that OERs could be implemented in social work courses. Thus, I was excited to learn about the Minnesota State program OER Learning Circles and submitted my application for a course redesign for our social work research course, which was something our department was already exploring.
What helped you the most in achieving your OER goals? What are you most proud of?
I learned from my colleagues and enjoyed my interactions with them, which were helpful in my OER goal. I am proud of the work I did in support of my department as a first-year faculty and my patience and determination which guided it.
Because traditional textbooks are often rented, OERs offer increased access and can serve as professional resources for alumni who are early in their careers and are studying for licensure exams.
What were some challenges you faced?
I became aware of department process on the adoption of textbooks and course revisions. Being a new faculty member at Metropolitan State University, this was helpful to learn! I needed to revise my timeline after learning the process, since I developed the timeline knowing my own pace and not that of the department. While it changed the redesign of the course, it also provided me with more insights into our social work courses, pedagogy, and our connection with the community in the Twin Cities.
Do you have any advice for faculty new to OER?
For those considering the OER Learning Circles, I suggest asking yourself a few questions:
- Do you enjoy learning online? Since the Learning Circle is primarily online with video meetings, enjoying learning online is important or at least knowing that there is not a face-to-face component.
- Are you a self-motivated learner? If you need considerable feedback and are highly motivated by others, consider a face-to-face group OR connect with a few peers that you can brainstorm with, get feedback regularly, etc.
After adopting the OER for the course, I connected with the author and joined his research team.
What do you wish you had known before joining OER Learning Circles?
My big takeaway from my work: OERs are worth it! The research shows that students benefit from the low cost and access, and instructors benefit as an OER is a powerful tool in the teaching toolkit. OERs MUST be wedded with effective teaching tools. Using an OER is only impactful when there are active learning strategies in the course.
Interested in joining an OER Learning Circle to help your students save money on the cost of textbooks?
Applications are now being accepted for the Fall 2020 semester, and are due August 26, 2020. Learn more and apply today.
Questions? Contact Karen Pikula.
Faculty and staff interested in OER can also join the OER Community Site.