This is a really interesting article from the Journal of Open Educational Resources in Higher Education. Yang Wu considers not simply whether OERs assigned as textbooks are better than traditional for-profit textbooks, but rather how and whether textbooks are used regardless of the type. It makes for interesting reading.
Comparing instructor teaching strategies and student responses on how teaching using OER can be improved, three factors—the selection of readings, directions on how to use required texts, and integration of OER with the course—played an important role in student use of textbooks.
More directly, Wu finds that regardless of whether textbooks are OERs or not:
the impact of assigned texts on student learning has been severely undermined by poor utilization of them by instructors and a general student perception that these works are not useful to their learning.
Which leads to a startling observation:
the true impact of high textbook costs in some institutions is not students having no access to required readings, but instructors abandoning the effective use of them.
Richard Misek's short film for Aeon is a delightful and educational poke in the eye to commercial archives that hoard public-domain works and charge for their use. Misek explains something that can often be very confusing: public domain doesn't necessarily mean available in the public realm. Watch it all the way through for the uplifting little gift at the end.
Something a little different, this is an episode of Tech won't save us podcast. The reason I'm including it here is that Yangyang Cheng provides an incredible explanation partway through the interview of how and why the corporatisation of universities has locked up so much publicly-funded knowledge. Far beyond the issue of open access journal publishing, Cheng outlines the connection between corporate states, patents, and nationalism.
Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Monday by Hugh Rundle.
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