Open Course Library could save students millions

Open Course Library, the new online database, provides textbooks and course material to students for 30 dollars or less. Primarily, students at South Puget Sound Community College would access course material through the Angel Learning Management Suite.

Courses provided by the Open Course Library are material for classes most popular among community and technical college students in the state. Many courses are introductory courses for higher education.

Courses can be used for online and hybrid classes as well as face-to-face classes.

The Open Course Library resources are delivered through Angel. Face-to-face classes would have a $4 fee to use the Open Course Library through Angel.

According to student Rachel Luce the effectiveness of Angel “depends on how well the [class’] teacher is organized.”

Luce believes the Open Course Library could benefit students at SPSCC (she spent over 400 dollars on textbooks this quarter) however she predicted some possible issues with using online textbooks for face-to-face classes. Luce wondered if it would inconvenience students who like to have their course material in class with them.

Online and hybrid classes already include use of Angel as a part of the course, therefore access to the Open Course Library would already be included with the standard fee for Angel. The Angel fee at SPSCC is $8 per credit.

Faculty members have already begun participating in the Open Course Library by submitting their own work to become course content.

According to Director of eLearning Rick Mckinnon none of the submissions from SPSCC faculty were selected to become courses during phase one.

Faculty will however provide more submissions for phase two. The phase two review process is already underway. Phase two will add another selection of courses to the 42 already published on the Open Course Library.

Mckinnon will serve as one reviewer of coursework for the library.

A state wide initiative by the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) resulted in the start up of opencourselibrary.org in October.

So far the library holds 42 online textbooks from various faculty submissions from colleges within the system across the state. Mckinnon said each course’s material is developed to be independent and need no supplemental material.

“I think that sometimes faculty feel a little uncomfortable taking someone else’s work,” said Mckinnon. However, according to Mckinnon faculty can change the material in order to improve its ability to work for their class.

“One of the great things about the Open Course Library is people are free to pick and choose what they like and to enhance it and customize it and change it,” said Mckinnon.

All courses are published with a Creative Commons license.

“Typically copyright says all rights reserved. Creative Commons license says there’s only some rights reserved. You can take this work and use it as long as you’re using it with attribution,” said Mckinnon.

Mckinnon said that the new way to share course material and other class resources is a parallel to what occurred in the music industry. Music is no longer distributed in the same way it once was, now everything is centered around the Internet.

Faculty interested in submitting work must complete a form evaluating their ability to create inventive course material that will catch student’s attention, their experience, and their skills with the technology. Forms from faculty submitters are processed through the instruction office.

“We’ve had only a little bit of participation in the creation of the materials but we’re going to get a big benefit from their availability,” said Mckinnon.