With textbook prices constantly climbing, the need for affordable alternatives has become a high priority for both educators and learners. But how can you reduce or remove the need for a course textbook while still ensuring that learners have access to the materials they need?
One solution is to use Open Educational Resources (OERs). OERs are no-cost educational resources that exist in the public domain or under free, open licenses that are accessible to the public. You can use, adapt, and redistribute OERs without worrying about the limiting restrictions that accompany private, paid resources.
Online course authoring software makes it especially easy to include OERs in your teaching materials. By using an online course authoring platform to create courses, you can provide access to many free educational resources through your eLearning content.
All it takes to distribute OERs effectively is the right course authoring tool to create engaging content and the right learning management system (LMS) to distribute it. Armed with these two tools, you can join educators across the globe in providing access to high-quality free learning materials.
Read on to learn more about how Brian Yates and Meredith Hibit of Red Rocks Community College did just that when transitioning their course content within their Spanish Department. With authoring software and SoftChalk's web-based course creation tool, they were able to design stunning course content with free resources.
Benefits Of Incorporating Course Authoring Software
After years of toiling with textbooks, online platforms, publishers and bookstores, the Red Rocks Community College Spanish Department decided to liberate ourselves from the bonds of commercial education. We took the leap to move to course authoring software in all of our courses.
In transitioning to the software, we discovered several primary benefits. Continue reading to learn more.
Drastically reduced cost of course materials
Our department managed to reduce the cost of course materials from over $100 to $0. You read that correctly: zero dollars.
Once students register for the course, they do not need to purchase any other course materials.
Students are prepared on day one of the course
From the moment students register for the course, they have everything they need. They don't have to wait for their textbooks to be delivered. There are no more issues with the bookstore or delayed orders. Everyone is ready to go on the day that classes begin
Instructors have more control over course content
Instructors are no longer bound to the outline of a textbook and its supplementary materials. Instead, we can create a sequence that is logical and relevant, both to our students and to us. We have total freedom to decide what content to incorporate.
This level of control over our eLearning course content allows us to reach our student learning outcomes more efficiently, more effectively, and more consistently. And it almost goes without saying that we also have a lot more fun.
Learning To Use OERs Effectively With SoftChalk
When we began exploring OERs, a series of important questions arose:
- How do we deliver OERs to students in a simple way?
- How do we take a variety of disparate websites, videos, practice quizzes, and other online content and deliver them to students in a consistent format that is clear and navigable?
- How do we keep track of student progress with all these materials?
We brought these questions to our Director of Instructional Technology and he suggested we explore SoftChalk. Admittedly, making a big change hasn’t always been simple for us. I'm sure most educators can relate to the specific frustrations that can accompany adapting to and learning about new educational technology. But on this occasion, everything came together almost immediately.
SoftChalk answered all our fundamental questions about organizing, delivering, tracking, and evaluating student use of OERs. And using SoftChalk to do this is relatively simple.
Within a few weeks, we had developed a template that allowed us to present all our materials in one place. With SoftChalk's ability to integrate with any LMS, we were also able to deliver this content through our existing LMS, Brightspace. We could then view student progress and sync student work with our gradebook.
Meanwhile, our students had no sense that they were surfing around the web. We were able to provide them access to endless educational materials without ever leaving the class website.
Below are samples of some of the content we created using OERs with SoftChalk's eLearning authoring tool:
|What students see when they open a module.||Interaction for students: video, self-check exercise.|
Entry point for tracking student progress.
Interested In Transforming Your Own Course Content?
Using authoring software to design or supplement your eLearning courses can help you decrease the cost of content creation. They can also help both students and instructors feel more prepared to tackle and cover course material.
To help effectively distribute OERs as part of your course content, you'll want to invest in an easy-to-use online course authoring tool like SoftChalk. SoftChalk can help you use the software to create engaging, interactive courses for students. Its course authoring tool allows you to create and edit professional-looking content with no coding experience necessary.
Since SoftChalk works with your LMS, you'll be able to upload the courses you've created no matter what platform you use to distribute content. And with SoftChalk Share, SoftChalk's OER learning object repository, you can join other educators in creating free resources accessible to the public.
To see if SoftChalk is right for your team, you can contact us to request a live demo or just go ahead and try it for yourself.
Brian Yates is a member of the World Language Department at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado. He received his BA in History from Yale University and his MA in Hispanic Literature from Villanova University. In his extensive teaching career, both in the United States and in Latin America, Brian has spent five years at the high school level and more than a decade in higher education. The creator and developer of bigtimespanish.com, Brian is dedicated to improving student learning by creating online educational resources and implementing them in his courses.
Meredith Hibit is the Chair of the World Language Department at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado. She earned a BA in Spanish and a BA in Communication Studies as well as her MA in Hispanic Literature at the University of Kansas. Meredith has been teaching in higher education for more than 15 years. She is dedicated to sharing her love for learning with her students online and in the classroom.