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OER at Work: Open textbook increases affordability, up-to-date information

Photo of Erika Wolters, assistant professor in Oregon State University's School of Public Policy, who has edited and adopted open educational resources in her courses.

Erika Wolters, an assistant professor in Oregon State University’s School of Public Policy, edited an open textbook on environmental politics and policy with her OSU faculty colleague, Brent Steel.

Jan. 6, 2021

Oregon State University faculty are driven to improve access to higher education and make college more affordable by reducing the costs of textbooks and required course materials.

With support from the OSU Open Educational Resources Unit, faculty members such as Erika Wolters and Brent Steel are adopting, adapting and authoring OERs for their classes. The two professors in Oregon State’s School of Public Policy teamed up to edit an open textbook for political science courses.

Wolters recently shared her insights about the OER creation process and more.

Tell us a little about the course you teach that uses the open textbook.

“I am using OER in two of my classes, but the OSU open textbook I use is ‘The Environmental Politics and Policy of Western Public Lands’ for my class, Environmental Politics and Policy. This class focuses on environmental politics and policy nationally, but then focuses on issues specific to the Western United States.”

Why did you choose to use this resource?

“Because students often have to pay so much for textbooks, using OER provides an opportunity for students to access the text for free while still benefitting from a high-quality and relevant text. Further, the ability to edit the open source text allows my colleague and I to provide updated information instantaneously. With rapidly changing environmental policy issues in the West, this is needed to stay up-to-date.”

What was your process for editing and implementing the textbook for your course?

“We wrote the book with the intention of adopting it to our class (and for colleagues at other universities who needed an updated Western environmental politics and policy book). The proposal for the book was straightforward, and working with OER was very easy. Everything was clear (deadlines, stipend, etc.), making it very easy to work through this process.”

What do students think about the open textbook?

“The students appreciate the ease of use. They can easily download chapters (or the entire book), read on a computer or on a phone.”


Learn more about the OSU Open Educational Resources Unit and the support resources available to faculty.

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