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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Student Government Association hosts Open Educational Resources Awards

Photo courtesy of Madison Umphrey

The Student Government Association, or SGA, welcomed faculty and students to celebrate the Open Educational Awards recipients. 

Open Educational Resources, or OERs,  are additional help by faculty members who take the time to provide easy and affordable access to course-related materials. SGA encouraged students and faculty to support those awarded on April 12 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the YMCA Great Hall. This is an event held annually to provide recognition toward faculty who have significantly affected their students and the Texas A&M community. 

The Open Educational Awards were presented to Dwight Roblyer, Rayna Dexter, Zhihong Xu, David Sweeney, Theresa Murphrey, Alain Lawo-Sukam and Nathan Bracher. 

OER materials are customizable which means an instructor can provide students with precisely what they need without a bunch of other unused chapters, Assistant Vice President for Faculty Affairs Heather Wilkinson, Ph.D, said.

“People who adopt OERs are saying, ‘This is what’s important, and I want to be absolutely clear with you what’s important and give it to you precisely and clearly,” Wilkinson said. 

This event was revamped last year, there was not as much recognition for the Open Educational Resources as there is now, international studies senior and SGA Director of Strategic Initiatives Kalie Popelka said. 

“[SGA] started marketing and putting it on TVs on campus and emailed all students and faculty,” Popelka said.“We actually let the faculty nominate other professors as well. It was really neat to see them nominate their peers.”

Open Educational Resources can change lives, not just academically, but also ease financial stressors in my personal life, epidemiology graduate student Matilin Rigsby said. 

“I cannot emphasize this enough — [OERs] are so much more than changing students’ ability to be successful in classes,” Rigsby said. “It really is impacting their home and wellbeing.”

Instructional associate professor in the School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts Rayna Dexter said OERs are accessible in all of her courses to eliminate stress on students so that a textbook is not needed. 

“I find that there are a lot of students who have the same struggles regardless of their financial backgrounds,” Dexter said. “College is expensive and keeps getting more so.”

French professor Nathan Bracher said he spends a lot of time preparing for class and what is needed to satisfy students’ success. 

“It is very rewarding for me to hear that the students are benefiting in several ways from their materials I use and that they appreciate what I do,” Bracher said. 

Dexter said she personally wanted to champion OER to students. 

“As a first generation college student, I had to pay for college on my own which made things difficult,” Dexter said. “I am really honored that students are recognizing the value of the time and energy that we are putting in to find these resources.”

Faculty members have been able to create their own vision of OERs to provide the best outcome for their course, said Wilkinson.

“The faculty nominated for this award have backed up their teaching responsibilities with deliberate intention by hand selecting and often personally tailoring the student learning experience,” Wilkinson said. 

Popelka said she was surprised by how active and excited faculty are to get involved in this process.

“[These faculty members] want to help you and give us funding,” Popelka said. “We gave each award winner tonight a thousand dollars, and that comes from the provost and library wanting to give money towards [OERs].”

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