GSC Ambassador Adapts an OER Textbook that Caters to Working Adult Students

GSC Ambassador Adapts an OER Textbook that Caters to Working Adult Students

November 21, 2019

Jan Hodges Coville, Director of Career Services at Granite State College (GSC), participated as an ambassador in USNH’s Academic Technology Institute (ATI) in 2018. As part of the ATI, ambassadors develop an Open Education project, which include both Open Educational Resource (OER) and Open Pedagogy projects. Jan’s plan was to adopt and adapt an existing OER textbook for a course she teaches in Career Development and Life Planning.

Jan explains, “I was using a career planning textbook that is associated with a well-known online career-planning software system which is licensed by our college.  The software planning tool is available at no cost to the student. However, they do need to pay for the text.  In addition, I dislike any textbook, in particular the one we are currently using, because it becomes outdated quickly. Career development theories and work place trends in today's world change rapidly.” 

She wanted to curate a resource geared specifically toward GSC’s working adult students, as she had found that many traditional textbooks on career development are focused exclusively on the career concerns of traditional aged students.  The students in Jan’s class range in age from 18-60 and vary in their career development stages.  It was also important to her to present students with the most up to date information on rapidly changing career development practice, theory and workforce trends while simultaneously reducing the cost of the course by eliminating student’s need to buy a textbook.

The result of her careful planning and researching was the adaptation of an existing OER textbook, “Blueprint for College Success – Career Decision Making,” by Dave Dillon. She began deleting the first half of the text which contained information that was not relevant to her learners.  She then added in several Granite State College specific resources, and other relevant content including videos.  

The first time Jan taught her course with the revised OER textbook course, students provided her with overwhelmingly positive feedback.  They pointed out that it was informative while being concise, written in plain language and loaded with fun and interesting videos. Many students mentioned that it was geared directly toward them and they appreciated that the information was divided up by career stage, so each person in the course could see the relevance of the material to their own situation. Everyone was happy that it was free. 

One student provided constructive feedback regarding a few concepts that were not covered in enough depth and mentioned that it was somewhat difficult to cite because there are multiple authors.  Jan noted that these concerns were valid and she made revisions to the OER e-book accordingly so future classes could benefit from the improvements.  The beauty of e-books being created in Pressbooks is that because it is web-based and the downloadable files are generated automatically from the web-based eBook, past and future students always have access to the most recent version.

Feedback from students who used the OER textbook in GSC's Career Development and Life Planning​ course:

"Overall, I would give 99 over 100. The best textbook I have ever had here in Granite State College!"

"I like the e-text because I didn’t have to pay for a book and it was easy to access with or without internet. At my job, I didn’t have internet access, but I downloaded the book to my laptop…”

"It was super easy to navigate and was certainly not overly wordy, as most traditional textbooks are. I liked the videos that were embedded in the chapters as well."

Most recently, Ms. Coville reports that one of GSC’s students, Patrick Smart, will be working with Dave, as part of his senior capstone project, to make another version of this OER text for a specific population. Patrick reports, “As I understand the internship, it will be my reading his Open Educational Resource (OER) Blueprint for Success publications (which I am reading now), and working with Dave to tailor/format information that would be specifically directed at students in high-risk employment, i.e. First Responders.  I think the OER is a wonderful approach to help students focus less on the expenses of secondary education, and more on the studies, and the personalized stories and advice are a great addition to the traditional format of textbook information.”

 Another student, Ellen Lockwood, who graduated from GSC in 2019 with a B.A. in History, is now working with Dave as a virtual intern. Ellen describes her experience by stating,

For the first part of the project (looking at the textbook sources) I was looking further into OER sources and in the process realized I had in fact used one of the websites during my college education (OpenStax). I enhanced my research skills; if there was a source that supplied a certain amount of information, but the link did not work, I looked around until I'd found a reputable source that had that information (updated). In this way I found/read through a great deal of websites that had helpful research tips and different ways of tracing information to the source.

 

It will definitely help my career, having had experience with the analysis side of research: following information to the source, recognizing the signs of a reputable source, and finding that a great deal of those sources are connected to other websites that have information that is just as reputable. In connection with this, it was very interesting to me that a small percentage of the sources were government websites with information that was updated daily (it didn't change often, but was automatically updated). This will also be helpful in the event that I ever do research with the intent to publish . . . knowing reputable sources makes the search for good solid information that much smoother.

 These examples take the OER text to the Open Pedagogy level because opportunities present themselves when you work in the open. Readers may view Jan Coville’s OER textbook adaptation of “Blueprint for Success in College: Career Decision Making” on the Granite State College’s Pressbooks site.

Jan Hodges Coville holds a B.A. from Burlington College and an MS in Human Services/Counseling from New England College. She is the Director of Career Services at Granite State College, and is a Certified Career Counselor and a Global Career Development Facilitator.

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