Washburn encourages use of open resources

With rising costs of school materials, students sometimes find themselves spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars every year.

Oct. 22-28 is Open Access Week and Mabee Library is hosting several events dedicated to free academic resources and to helping people find ways of getting information for free. The main event will be the showing of, “Paywall: The Business of Scholarship,” a free film about the need for open access to research and science, specifically in journal access.

“It’s an open access film about… what they call the antiquated system, this pre-internet system [that] doesn’t work anymore,” said Amanda Luke, open access and public services librarian at Mabee.

The film will be shown at noon Oct. 24, on the main floor of Mabee. Luke said that they will be providing snacks to encourage people to show up. There will also be an information booth set up at multiple times throughout that week, including during the showing of the film where students and faculty can learn more about open access resources and how they can be used in their lives.

“We’re also doing a video booth that day,” Luke said. “[It’s] a video booth to record, for students, why students need open access and open education. Specifically open textbooks in their courses. [Students] spend hundreds of dollars a year on textbooks.”

Luke said she hopes faculty will record why they think open access is beneficial in their classrooms too. One way faculty are being encouraged to use these types of resources is by applying for a grant.

Sean Bird, associate dean for Mabee Library and the Center for Student Success and Retention, said that faculty are very busy and switching to a whole new system for their class is something that takes time and money.

“As budgets become tighter and there is a lot more to be done, people have more and more things on their individual list that they’re responsible for,” Bird said. “In order to wedge a new thing into that already full docket, sometimes we need to incentivize that.”

Bird also said that the grant is a way to show that Washburn is being serious about open access.

“There’s a lot of truth to the idea that if you want to know how an individual or an organization views a particular endeavour, look at how the money is being spent,” Bird said. “If you claim that something is important to you, there’s an obligation on your part as an individual or an organization to make sure that the funds are allocated in a way to show that importance.”

One of the primary goals for Bird is to make students successful and this “endeavour” plays into that goal.

“Open educational resources are important,” Bird said. “They’re important from a student success perspective. As more and more students come to college as first generation students, as more and more students come to college seeking educational attainments without the preparation or resources that they need, the cost of textbooks is one of those factors that we need to be able to address.”

Bird said that they are hoping that this grant will help students succeed more.

“Ideally we will be able to identify a handful of instructors that can make a wholesale switch,” Bird said. “[Faculty] who can find the textbooks that they need, the resources that they need for class can all be gained through open resources. We also know that in order for them to do the research to make a thoughtful and intentional decision, they’re going to need to be incentivized for that.”

The Open Textbook Grant will award 16 faculty $500 each to move from using resources that students have to buy and switch to resources that are openly available for free.

Bird said that these changes in the way education is done is nothing new.

“Education is in a constant state of change,” Bird said. “It’s as dynamic, in some ways, as technology, and technology is a part of educational change. It hasn’t been that many years ago that classrooms were rows of chairs and desks with chalkboards and roll-up maps. We have mediated classrooms now that allow us to use the technology that’s available to engage students in a new way…in a more robust way and allow them multiple avenues for learning.”