Welcome to our new series recognizing champions of free and affordable course materials at Touro! These “Textbook Heroes” have made a difference in the lives of our students by lowering the cost of their degrees. Do you know someone who fits the bill? Nominate them (or yourself) by emailing email@example.com.
During the spring 2020 semester, Professor DeCandia saved 26 students over $7,145 by switching to OER!
Who are you? Tell us more about you and the course you teach.
My name is Angelo DeCandia and I teach all Economics and Finance courses for the Business department.
Describe your previous textbooks and what your class was like.
Previously I had used the standard textbooks for each of the courses I taught. It was always difficult to get the students to buy the books and read them.
Why did you want to switch to an open textbook?
Under the new Zoom format, it became critical to have a “visual” to help focus the students’ attention. Yes it can be done with PowerPoint, but there was insufficient time to develop everything that was needed. Open textbooks provided that visual, and, even more, made a strong connection between the textbook and the classroom. This does not mean we “read” the textbook during the class, but by including it directly, students realized the importance of reading in order to deepen their understanding. And once I made the decision to make the textbook an integral part of the lecture, it became obvious that only in digital format could this method work.
How has your class changed since you switch to an open textbook?
It seems that students read more with open textbooks if the book is tied to the lecture. It is much easier to tie the textbook to the lecture with open textbooks because of the digital format.
Describe your students’ reactions to the open textbook.
Students seemed satisfied with the content as long as it is a supplement to class lectures. And of course, everyone loves the fact that the books are free.
What do you think of the quality of the new textbook?
The quality of the books I have used is acceptable. There are some typos and the graphics aren’t always correct, but given the advantages, it is acceptable. Hopefully the quality will improve. One other point is that there are many courses for which there is not a suitable open textbook. Hopefully that will change as well.
What would you say to other faculty members who are considering switching to OER?
I encourage all faculty members to explore open textbooks as an option. It may not work for all, but I think a significant number of faculty will find that open textbooks get the job done.
Responses may be condensed and edited for clarity.