Dr. Pamela Scheffler is an ecologist by trade. She is also a professor of Geography, Biology, and Environmental Science, as well as Tropical Ecosystem and Agroforestry Management (TEAM) at Hawaii Community College. Most of her courses do not require a textbook as traditionally texts have been hard to find in her discipline. After years of relying on what few books she could find, supplemented with articles in her field of study, she began looking into OER options for her introduction to environmental science (ecology and the environment) course. After years of searching she discovered a text out of Canada in LibreTexts that wasn’t available anywhere else. Digging a little deeper she also found a text from Oregon Coast Community College. Dr. Scheffler attended the very first LibreFest held at the University of Hawaii where she learned how to use the LibreTexts Remixer to adapt and create custom OER for her courses. Between the two texts she had already found, combined with a single chapter on sustainability from a third resource, she has enough material to create a custom text for her course; and because the material is all openly licensed, she plans to rewrite sections of the Canadian text that have a distinct Candaian focus, to incorporate a more Hawaiian focus instead.
Dr. Scheffler recalls that cost was always an issue for her when she was a student, determining which courses she would take each semester. When choosing between entomology and botany courses, the former were considerably more affordable in terms of textbooks costs, which meant Dr. Scheffler eventually changed her focus from botany to entomology, thereby changing the course of her entire education. After a student once told her about selling a $100 book from one of her courses to the bookstore for $3, Dr. Scheffler knew she had to do something to help bring down the cost of her courses for her students. Although she has never defined any of her courses based upon a single textbook, she began by working with the publisher Wiley to create a custom text for around $50; but when the bookstore added an additional 35 percent surcharge to the cost of the text because it was a “custom resource,” she decided she needed to do more. With OER and the ease of editing and remixing on the LibreTexts platform, she finally feels like she has found a good solution. She has used her current custom text for one semester, asking her students to review each chapter of the text as one of their assignments; this allows the students to feel like they have a say on how future versions of the text will be used in the course. At the end of the semester she conducted a poll to gauge their overall impressions of the text, and for the most part, her students were enthusiastic about using the OER in place of a traditional textbook.
If you’d like to know more about Dr. Scheffler’s work with LibreTexts and OER, she can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.