Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research resources that make use of appropriate tools, such as open licensing, to permit their free reuse, continuous improvement, and re-purposing by others for educational purposes. (UNESCO).
OER Learning Circles are an opportunity for Minnesota State faculty to collaborate across the system with colleagues who are committed to saving students on the cost of textbooks and course resources.
In addition to facilitated, virtual weekly meetings, OER Learning Circles utilize a D2L Brightspace course to support faculty and the equivalent of .5 RCE (reasonable credit equivalent) is available to participating faculty.
OER Advocate Profile – H. Giovanni Antunez
H. Giovanni Antunez is an Epidemiology and Public Health faculty at St. Cloud State University who participated in the fall 2020 OER Learning Circle cohort.
Briefly describe your project.
I authored a primary course resource, a textbook titled Principles of Epidemiology. It is a textbook for introductory epidemiology, covering the basics, and more than the basics because it goes in deep into the application of the concepts in real life situations using medical/epidemiological and public health literature data that is used to prepare the calculations. The idea is to have a theory and concepts section, with a section on calculations so students learn how to apply the concepts learned from the theory.
Describe any changes that you made so this course resource is more accessible, equitable, or culturally diverse than before.
The current project simplifies (without losing the scientific rigor) a lot of concepts that are regularly taught in an introductory epidemiology class. It also include history of epidemiological studies and public health work among black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC), which is missing in most (if not all) of the current commercial, and non-commercial epidemiology textbooks. The intention is to add images that reflect all ethnicities since the majority of textbooks rarely use pictures of people of color.
What challenges did you face with your project and how were you able to overcome those challenges?
My major challenges were to find and make time to work in the project, and finding images and tables of information. But by participating in the OER Learning Circles in fall 2020, I learned tools to overcome these two challenges. The weekly meetings with my OER Learning Circle cohort helped me to stay on task, and I learned how to find free and Creative Commons (CC) licensed images, tables of information from federal agencies, and other visual aids from the CC world to illustrate the content of my book.
What helped you the most in achieving your goals for this project? What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of a remix I did this semester for one of the most challenging chapters in my textbook about study design in the field of epidemiology. Doing the remix from an OER I found helped me not only in terms of how to do it (the mechanics on how to work with the content of another OER author, work the content in Microsoft Word, and then transferring to Pressbooks), but I also how to know what to use and want to not use. OER Learning Circles helped me make content selections and pace myself.
Did you experience any unexpected challenges or benefits from participating in this project? What were they?
I only have benefited from the OER Learning Circles, I learned a lot from the colleagues in my cohort, I think this was the most rewarding part of the experience. The presentations done in the OER Learning Circle from invited speakers were so relevant and useful to my project.
What are your next steps?
I will to continue working on my OER textbook project, which I plan to complete next academic year, and have it available for the fall 2021. At the same time, I will start a new project, writing an OER for nutrition. I also plan to join another OER Learning Circle.
How would you recommend someone new to OER begin using OERs in their teaching? What are good first steps?
The first step is awareness. Faculty on campus need to know about OER and take the time to learn what it is and how you can get involved. Also, any initiative in my opinion needs to include the librarians in my institution, they are the most prepared, and resourceful individuals on campuses for OER.
What are your Big Takeaways for another faculty who might want to adopt or create OERs?
- OER promotes active learning among students.
- OER are the future of public universities.
- OER responds to the need of students who struggle financially.
- OER can be a great tool to promote and implement Minnesota State Equity 2030.
Visit www.MinnState.edu/OER to learn more about OER at Minnesota State.