One of the barriers to an equitable higher education relates to resource accessibility, specifically how limited access for some student populations creates a disadvantage in the classroom. Currently, students relying on financial aid to purchase textbooks have to either wait for their financial aid to hit, typically a few weeks into the term, or go into debt to purchase materials. The former option sets students back a few weeks behind other classmates; the latter sets up the student for potential financial insecurities.
Mason supports faculty interested in making their course materials more accessible for the benefit of their students. These options, available in partnership through the University Libraries, impact affordability and lead students towards a more equitable educational experience.
TextSelect: Textbook Reserves Program
Faculty teaching Mason Core courses should provide textbook information for their courses to the TextSelect program, which ensures a physical copy of their textbook is purchased and held on reserve by the library for student access. Each semester, faculty teaching Mason Core courses should verify their textbooks are available at the library and communicate the TextSelect program to their students.
OERs: One of Higher Ed’s Best Kept Secrets
Open Educational Resources (OERs) include a variety of materials – from textbooks, to software, to media – that are open for public consumption. These resources can be utilized by Mason faculty, allowing students access to their course materials on the first day of classes regardless of their financial resources. OERs improve equity and lower student costs by providing course materials to all students free of charge.
Faculty who embrace OERs provide equal opportunity to learning and resources. Faculty have options to not only adopt these resources for their courses but to also publish their materials in open-source platforms. Mason provides many resources for both avenues of involvement.
Adopting OERs for Your Course
The Mason OER Metafinder is a federated search tool that performs real-time searches across multiple repositories of Open Educational Resources content. In addition to searching well-known OER sites like MERLOT II, OpenStax and OER Commons, the Metafinder also queries sources like HathiTrust, DPLA, Internet Archive and others.
Visit University Libraries for a full overview of the OER resources available for Mason faculty.
Publishing Materials as OERs
Faculty can also work to develop their own materials to use as OERs with support from Mason Publishing Group. To learn more about publishing your own OER content, what grant opportunities are available for faculty, or to better understand copyright and fair use when selecting course materials, explore the provided resources for Scholarly Communications.