Okanagan College prof leads the way in developing new open educational resources

By Public Affairs | April 15, 2020
           

Michael Orwick
Okanagan College School of Business professor Michael Orwick

In a challenging time when nearly every post-secondary institution has made the move from in-person to online classes, an Okanagan College Business professor is working to develop and put free online textbooks in the hands of students.

Announced in March, Michael Orwick, professor at Okanagan College’s School of Business was awarded one of four BCcampus Marketing OER grants. With aid from the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, the grants will help the development of open educational resources in marketing across the province.

Other grant recipients included Andrea Niosi from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Rochelle Grayson from Langara College as well as Mike Walmsley from British Columbia Institute of Technology. Each cited common themes of supporting students, connecting learners and excitement for the future of online educational resources.

For Orwick, the journey to the BCcampus grant was not a short one. While free textbooks are just that, free, Orwick quickly discovered various trends among his students that would help propel the initiative at Okanagan College.

First, there was an indicated need for free textbooks.

“There is a stunning number of students who are simply not buying textbooks,” says Orwick, acknowledging varying financial situations, and the second-hand textbook market as potential hurdles for purchasing. Often expensive to buy with little to no promise of retaining a resell value, students made it clear that there were barriers to buying.

“An online version costs nearly as much, but you can’t resell it.” The verdict was clear – if students weren’t buying textbooks at all, physical copies or online, what was keeping them from doing so?

The second trend to emerge from student feedback and online interaction was that even with a free textbook, there was a lack of additional support. Even with something that was free, it became a standalone document that was often hard to navigate online. Features, add-ons, test banks, lesson assistance and teaching notes, all supplementary yet often crucial elements for students, came at a price. Again, students simply didn’t use the features.

Then came a solution. Why not create the supplementary features and make certain that they’re free? Then, ensure students can access the resources on any platform, on any device.

Orwick says student feedback on the project has been overwhelmingly positive so far. In the first semester of using the free online materials, every student had the text, some even using it on their smartphones. In short, fewer students missed out on assigned readings or course support because everything was available to them at no additional cost.

“This project is a shining example of the many ways in which our professors are innovating at all times, and one that’s particularly meaningful for students, I would expect, given the myriad of changes that have happened in the post-secondary world due to COVID-19,” says Dean of the School of Business, Bill Gillett. “Congratulations to Michael on being among only a handful of scholars in the province to receive one of these prestigious grants.”

For the upcoming fall semester, the School of Business has plans to use the Principles of Marketing textbook for the first-year Introduction to Marketing class. To learn more about the grant, BCcampus and open resources, go to the BCcampus website here.



Tags: Okanagan School of Business, Open Education Resources

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