Thursday, January 24, 2013

Open Educational Resources

Earlier this month, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. visited San Jose to help launch a new SJSU learning initiative, SJSU Plus, which is aimed at expanding access to and lowering the cost of higher education..  A video of the event is available here.

It is fantastic that the leadership of my university, and some of our best faculty pursuing this.

While I have not been involved with this initiative, I have been interested in ways of lowering the cost of higher education since I was a student.  When I started at SJSU five years ago, I experimented with numerous low-cost and free textbooks in my classes.  I like to think I know my way around this segment of the textbook market, at least for economics, and lately I have been exploring free and low cost options for statistics, a critical skill for economics students.  Here I'll share my favorite finds for each topic.


For introductory economics, I recommend Rittenberg and Tregarthen's Principles of Economics textbook.   This was published by Flatworld Knowledge under a Creative Commons license.  I have purchased PDF versions of the chapters from the 1st edition of this book and I have made them available on my web page. I also posted a click-able, HTML version here.


For introductory statistics, I recommend Illowsky and Dean's Collaborative StatisticsThis book and accompanying resources were produced by two members of the faculty at De Anza College, just down the road from us in Cupertino.  This is a major contribution.  Not only do they provide the textbook and valuable resources, but they even produced video lectures!  I had some trouble watching the videos using Quicktime, but luckily they also posted the videos in MP4 format (here).

I'm planning on using all of these resources, and some I developed myself, to revamp the online courses we offer in the Department of Economics at SJSU.  I am posting all the materials I'll be using here, and this page will evolve as I continue to build up these courses.

The remaining challenge is figuring out how to use these resources to teach students, as college students almost always lack the discipline required to learn these topics on their own.  I understand the SJSU Plus initiative contains a substantial assessment component, and this, matched with innovative learning methods will be critical.