Open Education Week Lunch-Time Talks at San José City College

San José City College (SJCC) will join in the International Open Education Week festivities. SJCC faculty, staff, and students are invited to join us for presentations in the Professional Development Center (General Education Building GE-118) for the following:

Tuesday, March 28, 12-1 pm
Teaching with An OER Textbook
This is a panel discussion with Veronica Harris, Counselor & Instructor, Guidance and Lorraine Burnham-Levy, Instructor, Psychology

Wednesday, March 29, 12-1 pm
What’s the eZ Degree? How Does it Work? Who Does it Impact?
This is a presentation by Susan Hines, Dean, Library, Learning Resources & Distance Education

Thursday, March 30, 12-1 pm
Community of Practice for OER Degrees
This is a presentation by Una Daly, Director, Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER)

To register for one or all of the talks, visit the Distance Education Workshops form and scroll down to the Additional Workshops & Presentations section. For more information about OER week at SJCC, contact Susan Hines (susan.hines@sjcc.edu).

OER Adoption: Instructor Experiences

College SuccessThis semester two San José City College instructors, Veronica Harris and Lorraine Levy, ventured into some new territory. Instead of using traditional, printed, for-purchase textbooks in their classrooms, they opted for electronic open-education resources (OER). Harris, who teaches guidance courses and is a counselor for Puente and Athletics, is using an Open UMN textbook called College Success, and Levy, who teaches psychology courses, is using an OpenStax textbook called Psychology. Neither faculty member had used an OER textbook in her teaching before nor any textbook in an electronic format. Thus far, both instructors are well satisfied and find the students’ impressions to be favorable.

Textbook Value

According to Harris, the discovery of College Success was a twofer: “I teach a College Study Techniques guidance class in the fall semester and a Career and Life Planning guidance class in the spring. The main reason I am using the OER textbook is because my students had to purchase two textbooks for each of these courses. [The textbook] covers entering college and study techniques that I teach in the fall guidance course.  It also covers career and life planning, so I can use this same textbook in the spring.  This means my students do not have to purchase a book for either semester.” In each of Harris’s courses, the approximate cost of the textbook was $100.

OpenStax PsychologyCosts were a bit steeper for students in Levy’s section of Introduction to Psychology. The textbook she used prior to adopting an OER was $290. When asked about the quality of the OER textbook, Levy responded “I’m happy with the quality. It’s succinct. It has all the main points I cover in my normal lectures. It’s compact enough that I am free to elaborate with my own materials, including extension or enrichment activities.” She is also happy with the textbook’s CC BY licensing, which means that she’s free to add to and edit textbook chapters and sections. “I’m getting my PhD in Jungian psychology, and he’s not fully represented. [This] gives me the opportunity to add my own content.”

Student Response

Resoundingly, students are in favor of OER textbooks because they are free, but there are other benefits, as well. For example, OER puts an end to availability gaps, so a late book order or bookstore hiccup doesn’t derail any ambitious plans for the first few weeks of class. OER textbooks are helpful to students and instructors alike who take and teach newly added course sections or “late start” courses. “As I was a last-minute hire,” says Levy, who works as an adjunct, “I was relieved the [text]book was already chosen since I was jumping into the class the weekend before the class started.” Harris notes that students don’t miss hauling physical textbooks to class. They like that their books are always already online or readily available on their smartphones or tablets or laptops. Well aware that some students are apprehensive about computers, Harris schedules her classes in a lab, so she can assist with the technologies and be certain that students have access to the OER textbook during class.

When asked if students had any technical problems with their OER textbook, both instructors responded in the “so far, so good” vein. “I’m not aware of any technical problems. Everyone,” Levy observed, “was able to download the textbook, and everyone has a way to read the electronic text. Students bring their electronic devices each week to class.” Levy, who teaches at the Milpitas Extension, makes use of overhead projection devices when she wants to focus on or discuss a passage or section of text. “Instead of referring to page numbers, I refer to chapter titles and section numbers.” Levy also finds that an electronic textbook supports her teaching style. Interspersed with lectures, her students work on “assignments in Canvas,” making it possible for them to “work between their online textbooks and their online assignments.”

Technological Advantages

The active learning taking place in Harris and Levy’s classrooms isn’t unique, but it does demonstrate ways in which textbooks in electronic formats might be better integrated into instruction, whether or not students are huddled together in real-time, working collaboratively in a classroom or lab or working independently and asynchronously on a computer at home or in an office break-room. Harris is an admitted fan of electronic search, which makes it possible to leverage texts in a variety of ways. “I like using the search feature to look up a passage in the book,” Harris explains. “With a printed book you have to flip through pages to find what you are look for.”

Kindle on AndroidTo be sure, electronic texts make research faster. Key words or phrases can be located in seconds, then cut and pasted into student notes, study guides, or assignments. Electronic texts can foster readings that are both broad and in-depth. Because most online texts are by their very nature intratextual, students who read on a Kindle or iPad can look up the definitions of words or access endnotes on the fly. These platforms also allow for hypertextual connections with other online texts as well as networked note-taking, so students can share the equivalent of their highlighted passages and margin notes with other readers.

Voice activation inquiry systems are growing increasingly more common, as well, making reading and note-taking even more interactive. Siri, Cortana, and Alexa are embedded into a wide range of devices these days and can bring information forward as quickly as a student might say, “Alexa, Wikipedia, Collective Unconscious.” These same systems provide text-reading capabilities as well, so learners have another way to access information – through the ears instead of the eyes.

Improving Resources

OER textbooks have come a long way in just a few short years, and seem poised to follow in the footsteps of the open-source software movement – a movement in which free applications are improved upon through common user contributions then re-released to the public. While most OER textbooks are fairly basic, some feature useful ancillary materials. According to Levy, Psychology includes “video links embedded in the chapters…and useful review sheets after each section.” Psychology, like so many OpenStax textbooks, also features instructor and student resources, including syllabi, test banks and “getting started” guides.

The OER Initiative at San José City College is also keen to enhance the OER experience. Located in the Division of Library, Learning Resources & Distance Education, the Initiative provides a variety of resources to help faculty locate, adopt, and utilize quality resources. Librarians are available to assist with OER textbook alternative searches and to explain copyright and licensing. The Initiative also provides students support by through OER handouts and tutorials and by making print copies of OER textbooks available for in-house use in the Library, the Learning Resource Center, and at the Milpitas Extension. For more information, visit: http://www.sjcc.edu/library/Pages/oer.aspx.

Open Education Week

March 27-31, 2017 is Open Education Week, a celebration of the global Open Education Movement. To find out more about what’s happening, visit: https://www.openeducationweek.org/.

Library Open Later and on Saturdays

Clock Face Shows 9 PMSince October 2016, the Library has extended its hours from 8:30 am until 9 pm Monday through Thursday and on Saturday 11 am to 3 pm.

Thanks to Equity funding and the support of students and faculty, the Library can now provide its valuable resources and services to evening and Saturday students.

Not only is the Library open longer hours, but it hosts tutoring provided by the Learning Resource Center during evenings and Saturdays.

Students who need help with math and English have access to instructors and student tutors upstairs in room L-313.

English Tutoring

  • Wednesdays, 7-9 pm (Raymond Brennan—Instructor)
  • Thursdays, 7-9 pm (Michal Stachnick—Instructor)
  • Saturdays, 1-3 pm (Christine Trombly-Christen—Instructor)

Math Tutoring

  • Mondays & Tuesdays 7-9 pm (Nanda Jain—Instructor)
  • Wednesdays & Thursdays 7-9 pm (Student Tutor)
  • Saturdays, 11 am-1 pm (Bing Lu—Instructor)
  • Saturdays, 11 am-3 pm (Student Tutor)

The Great Holiday Food Drive of 2016

Since 2013, The Umoja Academic Success Program has partnered with the Associated Student Government (ASG) and Second Harvest Food Bank in holding a Holiday Canned Food Drive.  The event kicks off in early November and typically ends before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Second Harvest LogoThe Umoja Program encourages its students and the campus at large to engage as active members in their community. With this in mind, Umoja has utilized the Holiday Canned Food Drive as a way to bring the community and College together. According to Second Harvest, every 1.2 pounds of food donated provides families with one meal. Over the last two academic years alone, the SJCC campus community has contributed roughly 1,000 pounds of non-perishable food items to Second Harvest during the Holiday Canned Food Drive.

Santa Clara County includes some of the largest tech companies, highest incomes, and most expensive real estate in the nation; however, there are stark economic contrasts. Many of the County’s citizens are poor working-class families and many live in poverty.

Umoja is proud to help lead the way in providing assistance to community members who are less fortunate, especially around Thanksgiving.

San José City College was able to provide our community with 246 meals over the holiday season. Umoja would like to give a special thanks to the SJCC Women’s Basketball team for their generous donations.

Together, we can positively affect our community!