Does your campus bookstore system let students know when they have an OER textbook?

Originally published at: OER Textbooks: Campus Communication Challenges – CCCOER

Faculty should be able to communicate required textbook information to their students whether or not there is a cost for the book. Students should be able to know when signing up for a class if they have a required textbook and whether or not there is a cost for the book. We asked the Open Education Community, “Are you experiencing difficulties with your institution’s ability to communicate and display free OER course materials via your campus bookstore course material adoption system?”

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Are you experiencing difficulties with your institution’s ability to communicate and display free OER course materials via your campus bookstore course material adoption system?
This question was asked of a mostly American/Canadian audience, what about a more global audience?

Other questions to ponder:
–Has your institution been able to improve communication of OER textbooks through your bookstore’s course material adoption system?
–Are you able to list specific required OER materials in your bookstore or course catalog?
–Have you found sustainable methods for clear OER and no-book-cost course markings? How so?

We hope you reply here and/or answer this week’s Monday OEG Connect Pulse poll aiming to collect a global response to the question framed a tad more broadly.

I think its helpful to raise concerns and look for best practices in this space and where things are working better, but I found the survey and blog post seems hostile towards campus bookstores -and leaves the impression that there is widescale problems with bookstore and not course syllabus and course scheduling software, the OER descriptions themselves, and what information is communicated to the bookstore.

For example, what institutions completed the survey? Are the stores institutionally managed or outsourced? A similar survey by DOERS3 found almost no issues with institutionally run stores and overall the negative responses were a minority of those surveyed -despite also going to OER advocacy list serves like this survey.

Keep in mind at many institutions we are talking about thousands of unique ISBNs and SKUs -in the case of supplies and equipment with anywhere from 1/3 to north of 50% of adoptions changing term to term. At many campuses you have one FTE college staff member working on this and in turn working with department secretaries who are then coordinating with hundreds of faculty, many of whom are adjuncts and late hires. Automation using software has made things more efficient and easier on faculty and staff, but fewer human eyes scrutinizing every detail.

Also its worth understanding bookstores have no control and practically zero influence on the academic calendar, registration, faculty hiring and the course schedule. Course scheduling software has long had limitations and issues with integration of other sources of information. Academic calendar, registration and staffing hiring has always been disconnected from what is needed for a good textbook adoption process.

As to error rates in OER adoptions, the times I have researched specific problems identified by the community, I have found often that errors/incomplete information occurred outside of the bookstore. THIS IS NOT UNIQUE ISSUE TO OER. Just like any other adoption of course materials, errors occur. Wrong ISBN, bad or misleading info provided by a sales rep happen.

Sometimes professors specifically want to discuss the materials in class in the first class before a student acquires the materials. So when the bookstore indicates consult with professor, that may be because that is what the professor wants to happen.

OER can be more prone to errors because outside of OpenStax, SUNY and a few others, much OER lacks course adoption data typically available for commercial materials like copyright or publishing date, ISBN, publisher, etc. You also have faculty in some cases using OER for the first time and they are struggling with what information is available and what to communicate. Without an ISBN, there is no auto-populating data like most books and presenting that.

Something missing from this debate is a lot of OER -just like commercial sources are not supposed to be submitted by faculty or published by the bookstore in the adoption process. As most folks in the community recognize, OER is a loosie goosy term with significant debate on what is and and what is not OER. But again, this is not unique. There are plenty of commercial and “free” various forms of content faculty use that they may use in class or link in the LMS or syllabus that are not turned into the bookstore or listed in the schedule. The OER that needs to be turned into the bookstore and disclosed are Open Access Course Materials like textbooks, which is a specific subsets of OER. If you want the bookstore to capture all content a professor may use during a term, then your setting everyone up for failure and not helping students with actionable information on what students may need to self-procure with or without costs.

Finally, I think sometimes the community is conflating what information students need to know in the course schedule, syllabus, and through the bookstore website vs, what information a campus OER manager or advocate is trying to gather for their purposes.

Hi Rich, thanks for bringing another helpful perspective to this discussion and can see that it might suggest that problems are on the “bookstore” side (and as you suggest there are complications in generalizing all of them in one group).

Then again the question is framed as “difficulties with your institution’s ability to communicate” . Should a question be asked then or more information shared from a bookstore’s perspective where the difficulties lie to make information available? You certainly mention several worth more discussion --calendar/registration/catalog systems, challenges with lack of ISBN, and just being more clear on what we are talking about in terms of OER.

This is what we hope we can engage with here (or elsewhere) to look at these issues from many sides.

Thanks again for joining in here and I hope more people will weigh in.

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