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2009 October Faculty Forum


DATE: Thursday, October 15, 2009 (Dinner); Friday, October 16, 2009 (Forum)
PLACE: Detroit Metro Airport Westin Hotel
Learning Outcomes:
  • Broaden awareness: of the variety of alternative courseware options that are available or on the horizon
  • Identify: alternatives to traditional text books to remove financial barriers and support student retention
  • Increase: comfort level regarding exploring and using alternative courseware options
  • Share and build: on work done to date by faculty across the Strategic Horizon Network
  • Networking: connecting and exploring establishing an on-going work team


Thursday, October 15
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.    Dinner & conversation
Friday, October 16
8:30 - 8:45 a.m.    Welcome and Introductions
8:45 - 9:45 a.m.    Opening Remarks (Tom McKeon, President, Tulsa Community College)
                            An Overview of the issues related to alternative couseware (TCC Task Force:
                            Mary Cantrell, Rosemary Carlson, Mike Dinneen, Lynn Green) (Powerpoint)
9:45 - 10:15 a.m.   Text2 Trade (Sean Weins, Tulsa Community College)
10:30 - 11:45 a.m.  Concurrent Break Out Sessions
                             A Visit with MERLOT (Phil Moss, Director, Educational Partnerships & Planning) (Powerpoint) (PDF)
                             A Visit with Connexions (Kathi Fletcher, Project Manager)
                             A Visit with Cengage (Rob Bloom, Executive Marketing Manager, Academic & Professional Group)
                             A Visit with McGraw Hill (Lynn Colgin, Director, New Business Development & Tammy Detrich, Learning Solutions)
                             A Visit with Open Educational Resources Consortium (Jacky Hood, Director) (Powerpoint)
12 - 12:45 p.m.       Lunch
1:00 - 2:15 p.m.     Break Out Sessions repeated
2:30 - 3:30 p.m.     Discipline Group Discussions (See 2 sets of discussion group notes below) 
3:30 - 4:00 p.m.     College Team Consolidation Time
4:00 p.m.              Concluding remarks and Adjournment

October 16, 2009 Faculty Forum: Notes from Liberal Arts & Humanities Discussion Group,—Ideas and Challenges


Effort to replace art history book with a handout with links to ArtStor was somewhat effective but not enough support for students.  Thy needed the duplication of reading and then hearing the lecture.  Textbook was brought back but students complain about the expense.  Very interested in the open art history book from OERCC (Smart history)


We talk about doing things at our college but we are hitting a wall.  With five campuses, there is pressure to keep using textbooks (maybe for consistency across a large institution).  We can supplement with on-line material.


Several full-time teachers in Humanities use Course packs (adjuncts don’t).  Some may use materials that exceed limits on the amount of material that can be copied.


Our college owns the bookstore and the profits go to scholarships.  In the field of literature, you need to keep books and read them again years later.


Faculty work with Zip to customize readers.  Zip acquires the rights.  A philosophy professor plans to develop a free e-text from all of the important philosophers in the public domain.  Administrators offered a proposal to faculty to create on-line course templates that could be by adjuncts.  The proposal was rejected but an archive for electronic courses was established.  Faculty members in highly-enrolled classes may be offered a stipend to create course materials.  This has just begun with the 30 top enrolled classes.  Other faculty can choose from Web pages resources.  Another college reported doing the same thing using Blackboard organization sites.


One faculty member uses on-line readings with links to readings that are free on-line; adding and updating the links continuously.  The links are openly available and part-time faculty can contribute.


Some students and even some part-time faculty lack on-line skills.


On-line instructors who are “lead instructors” develop on-line courses from which adjuncts teach.


Budget allocations create issues—when an instructor requires color copies, the institution charges an extra fee for her course.


Faculty Innovation Grants (internal grants) are used to give preference to certain categories of projects.  One priority for the past few years has been to develop low-cost course materials.  Proposals have come more from smaller, more specialized classes.


High enrollment classes have many faculty and it can be hard for them to agree on how to proceed.  Course materials developed by one person may not be acceptable to others.


Cutting out extras like test and study questions can hurt part-timers.


Diversity among students within even a single course section leads to different preferences for technology vs. hard copy, etc.  The solution is probably to allow for multiple options.


Need search engine for MERLOT and Connexions.


It is time consuming to find the wonderful things that are available.


One campus has far more students on financial aid than the other campuses.  There are worries about students’ ability to buy textbooks but also to afford access to technology or even transportation to campus to use computers there.


One faculty member assigned a novella on-line—printing out 100 pages can make student unhappy and some don’t want to read on-line.


“Is Google making us stupid?”   Does reading on-line change how the brain works?


One school is talking about including a Kindle in the cost of tuition so students can then download all of their textbooks.


Kindle is only black and white but the technology is evolving and may soon be out of date.


One publisher here was plugging net-books—easy to carry.


Are we returning to an oral society where oral tradition carries things forward?


Students write more than they ever have—with changed spellings, shorter segments.  Language is evolving just as technology is evolving.


In some disciplines (like design) segmented (non-linear) electronic books may be superior.


E-mailing and texting represent a recovery of written communication, following a loss of writing during the dominance of television.


How can administrators support faculty who want to pursue alternatives?

            Reassigned time/reduced teaching schedule—this is time consuming to pursue

            Make sure schools have the electronic resources that students may not have        themselves—extended lab hours

            This is a classic R&D period.  Spread ideas, examine, refine, reject, support         research and development efforts

            Hire outside IT resources

            Host statewide conferences on this topic and invite faculty, administrators and      students

            State of Ohio provides a grant for faculty working together from at least 3   institutions to develop e-textbooks.  Helps to assure credibility of resulting books.

            Credibility of alternatives is important for transfer and articulation agreements.

            Grants as incentives.

            Hiring new people with technology skills and new ideas—finding people who are    interested


How aware are faculty of costs of textbooks and effort to find alternatives?

            Changes in laws are raising awareness

            Faculty are aware of their own textbook costs but don’t see them in the context of             students’ other book expenses

            Timing of textbook selection is a factor.  Early selection helps the bookstore shop for best prices


Students are renting textbooks—seems to pose a threat to college bookstore.  Savings can be very large.


McGraw-Hill seemed to be willing to extend the life of an edition if colleges enter into an agreement.


Cengage is going to start renting all of their textbooks.


Notes from Science & Math Discussion

Jeffrey Zeager (Lorain County Community College) and a partner have written a college algebra text and it is available on the internet at http://www.stitz-zeager.com. This college algebra book is freely available under a Creative Commons license for download or it can be viewed at the website. 
Rob Dudock (Mott) does not lecture from the textbook in his biology classes and he and other faculty members have authored the lab books that are used.
“How can administrators support faculty who want to pursue low-cost options?”

We discussed release time versus stipends. The preferred option depends on the faculty member’s teaching situation.  Some faculty members teach overloads and offering a stipend for the faculty member’s time would be satisfactory if the faculty member can drop one or more overloads to do the work required to develop low-cost options, replacing the lost income with the stipend.   However, for some faculty members time is the resource that is at a premium, and those faculty members would prefer to get release time rather than a stipend.  One thing administrators need to realize is that it takes copious!!! amounts of time to develop alternatives, to research alternatives, and to redesign courses to take advantage of the alternatives… much more time than is needed to adapt a commercial textbook’s Power Point or use other more traditional resources.        

“What are the challenges faculty face when pursuing options to reduce the cost of textbooks?”

Having time to do everything we are supposed to do is a huge barrier to developing new materials. There is an extra burden of time involved in preparing materials to be used for online courses, because it takes so much more time to make the materials clear and straightforward enough for students to use them independently. In one of the presentations (either Connexions or OER Consortium) someone referred to the time expectations for developing materials for independent study by sailors going out to sea for long periods of time. The general expectation by the navy is that someone preparing such materials will need to spend 100+ hours for every hour of course material to develop it, test it, and clarify it sufficiently for a sailor to learn from it when they might have no options for contacting an instructor.

In some specialized areas, producing technical materials can be very difficult, especially for courses taught completely online. If the traditional textbooks that contain many technical resources are abandoned in favor of alternative sources, faculty lose the right to use those technical materials presented in or with the textbook.  Some of these materials would be very difficult for an individual instructor to replace.


What will people take away with them? What have they learned? How will it change what they do about course materials? Any other topics or thoughts for discussion?


Several thought the conference was worthwhile, but had hoped for more faculty members to share what they were doing.

Jeff Zeager wants to write more content. In his situation, he just brings up the .pdf file of his Algebra book on the screen in the classroom and uses that for teaching.  He can make his materials available in course resource archives. His college will support using Camtasia to produce materials for modules. Lorain has a very strong intellectual property policy to encourage faculty to produce materials.


After attending some of the presentations at the conference, some faculty members feel more confident about the potential for quality in open resource materials on the web. The fact that some of the materials receive some sort of review is more comforting.


The comment was made that in looking at course material alternatives, we need to be careful not to exacerbate the digital divide. There are still areas in the country where no high speed internet is available or where people just don’t have the access for other reasons.


We need to remember that students have invested in the textbook they have right now… we need to make better use of it to ensure that our students get the value out of it that they have paid for.


There seem to be fewer free sources to help connect theory and application in chemistry.


The Westin Detroit was a really nice facility; never felt lost or confused or rushed; ample time for conversations; conference agenda at a good pace.


In the agenda, it would have been nice to have descriptions of breakout sessions to help participants in choosing where they wanted to go.

Other topics for faculty forums that might be useful among Strategic Horizons colleges and would include General Sessions across the disciplines with breakout sessions by discipline:  How is teaching evaluated or how should it be evaluated; role of faculty in shared decision making at the colleges, how do we define and assess rigor in our courses.