Department of Art & Design
Course: ART 281 - Introduction to Asian Art
OER created/used: Engaging with the Visual Arts of Asia (not yet publicly available)
Faculty Winner’s Impressions:
Well-illustrated textbooks for art history courses are expensive. Before knowing about the Textbook Affordability Grant, I had begun sharing links to free, online resources about the arts and cultures of Asia on my supplemental Blackboard site, rather than requiring students to buy or rent a textbook. Dr. Kathy Curnow, who had successfully created an OER textbook on African art, suggested that I apply for the grant. I recognized that this logical next step had great potential for increasing student engagement with course content. I was inspired to apply.
My procedure has been to curate and link to available open resources (especially images; timelines; articles and essays, and videos); create bridge content as needed; organize materials to follow the structure of my syllabus and support course objectives; create in-depth introductions, at-a-glance summaries, suggestions for further reflection and research; and write a comprehensive introduction which states the purpose, approach, and goals/objectives of the OER textbook, Engaging with the Visual Arts of Asia.
Since beginning to use the OER in Fall 2019, I have been revising the format and contents based on the results of student surveys. Among the things that these surveys show is that reception of the format is mixed. In general, students enjoy actively engaging with their OER textbook by following the links to curated resources, such as museum websites where they can zoom in on images and learn about art and cultures in depth; Google Earth and other sites where they can explore street views of cultural heritage locations; other sites where they can view videos, engage with interactive technology, and more. Some students prefer to find all the information they are required to know in one book which they can print, rather than being directed to external resources. In response, I have begun listing a recommended, optional textbook on my syllabus, explaining that some students might find the book helpful as a companion to the required OER textbook. Meanwhile, I continue to revise my textbook to include additional essential content within its pages.
What I am finding, as I continue to hone my textbook and integrate it into the course, is that students are, by and large, connecting more meaningfully with the arts, heritage sites, and cultural traditions of Asia while developing a wider variety of academic and life skills.
My advice to any faculty member considering applying for the Textbook Affordability Grant is to reflect on your learning style, as well as your teaching style, and to survey your students about the instructional materials you are currently using and the various alternatives you are considering. If you decide that developing an OER is appropriate, I suggest designing a resource that integrates with your course content in a way that you think will be the most beneficial and engaging, while being practical. Finally, consider including ongoing assessments, such as surveys, for a period of time after implementing your OER.