Many faculty in my department, especially those who teach first and second year courses, use services that require students to pay for assessments (like Pearson Connect). How can I take a compassionate stance and work to eliminate the use of these tools that promote inequity in the classroom? I have worked hard over the past several years to get faculty buy-in with OERs, but there are still so many faculty who are resistant to change and I fear it is damaging our students.
Very keen to see others’ responses, as I think this is a pretty huge issue. Thanks for asking the question!
Pearson Connect and all of the other proprietary assessment tools are just proprietary cloud-based LMSs. The alternative is to use openly licensed assessments on open source LMSs.
The downside is, of course, that faculty will need to take responsibility for creating and maintaining those assessments. Faculty should be paid to do this. It would still be cheaper than paying for the proprietary assessments.
Here’s a tip - if the assessments are created using Moodle they will run easily in Canvas, D2L, or Blackboard as long as the Moodle activities used are those that are compatible with the other LMSs but that’s not really an applicable limitation. Content can be exported and imported from Moodle to other LMSs easily. It’s not easy to go the other way.
I applaud your efforts and commitment to students.
A frank answer is that you will not be able to do this on your own.
You need a team, and preferably support from administration or even a mandate, ideally accompanied by funding for faculty who want to convert a course to OER.
Here is a link to resources provided by the OpenStax Institutional Partner Program:
Thanks for asking this question Lydia, for as much has expanded and grown for open education, there is much resistance. I’m hoping you experience and connections in the RLOE program are a help.
And there are many in this community who I hope will chime in, like the resources Cathy shared (the OER Starter Kit for Program Managers is golden), and as she said, to move the needle takes a team and institutional support which is not always there.
For many places, a key step in driving change is building support and elevating the voice of students, where student organizations / unions speak for the benefits of open resources, both on the cost savings side but also the side of more effective learning materials (e.g. creating local context which Pearson can never do).
Faculty and administrators cannot (well should not) ignore the voices of students!
Please colleagues, chime in and help Lydia!
Hi Lydia, I am in the same boat as you are and the resistance is quite high. What I have tried to do is involve some of my colleagues in developing OERs, urging more contextualizaation. Well, we have to coax, persuade and also show some incentivisation. Thankfully, the policy in India has changed for the better recently where faculty gain some points for developing OERs and these points are added in their promotion. Maybe you can convince your institution for some such incentivisation. This is enough to give the initial push.
Assessments and online homework has become the profit center for commercial publishers. OER and search engines have taken the profit out of textbook publishing as can be seen by the flat lining of textbook costs, inclusive access projects and textbook rental growth. To compete the OER community is going to have to provide assessment and online homework tools because these have become the driver for textbook adoption particularly in STEM. The problem is that there are real costs in operating these systems. They can’t be free. They can be institutionally or lab fee paid for.
LibreTexts’ effort in this direction, ADAPT decouples the homework system from expensive commercial publishers which provides teaching faculty with more flexibility in how they utilize OER in their courses. It’s not free, $10/course maximum of $30/year, any instructor can try it for a semester without a charge to their class.
ADAPT combines the features of multiple assessment systems (IMathAS, Webwork, H5P, LMS-QTI, and other custom technologies) in a single system. It empowers traditional homework and testing delivery (both formative and summative), embedded questioning in textbooks, and adaptive learning capabilities to allow students to guide their learning experience.
Anyhow, it’s a powerful system, you might enjoy using it.
Thanks Josh, the ADAPT system provides a valuable counterpart to the commercial textbook publishers move into the homework/practice systems space. And having access for a semester to try the system is a great offer from LibreTexts – this is available from the main ADAPT site https://adapt.libretexts.org/.
Worth noting are the early efforts in this space by BCcampus under their Open Homework Systems project (disclosure I did some work with them for this project) and as well a new Open Homework Systems project this year from the Big Ten Alliance. I’m curious to learn if there are more similar efforts elsewhere, the more we have happening as alternatives to publishers the better.
I have a question (or two!)…
Is ADAPT providing similar features or are these platforms integrated under the hood (I guess I should just take a peek)?
Thanks, I am hoping maybe we can convene something soon to have more information shared on open homework systems.
Thank you to everybody who has given some great ideas and resources. I have been looking at some of these. As I am from BC and very familiar with BC campus, I was interested to learn about the open homework project.
It’s interesting to reflect upon my own teaching experience and remember times when we came up with her on assignments and ideas. We would develop our own scenarios and case studies as there were no commercial resources or open resources available.
It’s almost as if we need to return to a time of going back to this, but creating a culture of sharing and open practises where we can build repositories for our colleagues.
In addition to continued resources in the space, I am curious to hear what you think about these ideas.
Basically, ADAPT runs the different systems as a common interface for serving the questions and reporting assessment. To the student users it (should) be seamless. To instructors it’s an issue of how far under the hood you want to get.