Open Education at Oklahoma State University
Introduction to Social Media is an Open Educational Resource (OER). This means the book is free (It was a good joke, right?). When Dr. Joshua Daniel became Director of First Year Composition in June of 2020, one of the first things he did was survey instructors and students to learn what they thought of the program. At that time, the program had two commercial textbooks students were required to purchase, and they were in negotiations with another textbook company to add a third. Many things became clear when he talked to students and instructors, but two points are relevant here: 1) instructors hated using the textbooks; 2) students hated the textbooks and generally did not do the reading. Dr. Daniel didn’t think that is because instructors or students are lazy; he thought it was because commercial textbooks generally aren’t very good. The reason for this is they, as products that need to be marketed and sold for profit, need to be as applicable as possible in as many contexts as possible. In other words, the textbooks the program was using stood the best chance of being profitable if they were equally as useful at OSU as they would be at OU, or UC Davis, or NYU. See the problem? Even though many commercial textbooks are quite good, by being applicable in so many contexts, they are never as good as they could be in any specific context. This book was built by and for the instructor of this course, an entrepreneur and practicing professional in her field. Moreover, when we find problems, we get to update it as you go (none of that, “Do I have to purchase the third edition, or can I get by with the second edition?”).
So that’s a reason to embrace Open Education: the textbooks are better. Here is another. Education is both a right for every human being and a responsibility for every democratic nation. Speaking as a 90’s child now staggered by student loan debt, Joshua Daniel comments with certainty you are already paying more than enough for your education, and textbooks for your courses, when possible, should not add to that burden. All told, if you calculate the three textbooks previously in use for the first year composition program, students were spending just under half a million dollars per academic year on commercial textbooks. This for textbooks that instructors hated and students did not read. Not the best investment, at least not for us. Dr. Daniel believes all of you have a right to pursue education as far as you wish, and a small way we can help enable that is to remove as many barriers to entry as possible. Dr. Daniel was a first-generation college student. He grew up on a farm in Mississippi. Both of his parents had to drop out of high school for work, and none of his siblings were able to pursue higher education. When he arrived at my first undergraduate institution (he bounced around quite a few before he managed to graduate) he was lost and straight up broke. He dropped more than one course simply because he could not afford the textbooks. Many of your instructors have similar stories to this. For this reason as well as others, the instructor of this course is committed to removing the cost of commercial textbooks as a barrier to your education.
“Open Education at Oklahoma State University” licensed CC-BY is adapted from “Introduction to Who Teaches Writing” by Joshua Daniels, licensed CC-BY. It has been modified for voice and customized for non-textbook specific use.