Business Professor Dr. Dan Leland was recently named the Maine representative for a multi-state initiative on Open Educational Resources (OER) through the New England Board of Higher Education. The role reflects Thomas College’s proactive work on the topic and positions Thomas as a leader in the region.
Dan was first exposed to OER through the Davis Educational Foundation Grant at Thomas College. Working alongside his peers, led by Dr. Katie Rybakova and including Librarian David Smith, Dan found that the effort has made a considerable difference in course delivery.
“Most people first hear of Open Educational Resources and think of the students’ financial benefit. Let’s face it; textbooks are costly, and anything we can do to ease the students’ pressure is a benefit. I quickly found that while saving costs is essential, it is a side benefit of OER development,” says Dan. “I find that students enjoy it when an instructor integrates music, podcasts, pop culture, or current events into the classroom. They relate to a quick four or five-minute video better or think-pair-share exercise better than assigned textbook chapter readings. Most importantly, they get the sense that they are participants and have ownership in the class, not just attending a slideshow presentation.”
Dan says many Thomas faculty members have embraced the OER platform for course delivery. Dr. Steve Kahl, for example, converted all his course offerings to OER delivery.
Dan notes the OER format is to great benefit for current and future Thomas College students. “First and foremost, students will see cost savings. And, the classes will contain interactive, better, and quicker feedback, with more active engagement.”