Dr. Wyatt Murphy on Open Educational Resources

To help foster a constructive conversation about Open Educational Resources (OER), University Libraries asked Dr. Wyatt Murphy, Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Seton Hall, his thoughts about how OER can help students and faculty.  

University Libraries have been at the forefront of promoting Open Educational Resources (OER) on campus. Can you share your thoughts on how OER can help students and faculty as an alternative to the traditional publisher textbook model?

As a student, when you are talking about a $250 textbook that is being used all over and it’s been homogenized, there’s not much there, it’s disposable. A question student should ask: is this book good enough for me to keep, am I going to get value out of this?

But if the OER textbook book costs nothing, and if it’s equivalent to the publisher’s textbook, there’s more value to an open source book. Students can keep it; they can mark it up any way they want digitally. In an open source textbook, the quality and creativity is often greater than a standard textbook, and that’s going to just expand.

With OER textbooks the thing I like best is: I might not want to write a whole book, but I might want to write a chapter because I have a different way of looking at things, you know (I’ve been teaching for almost 40 years) and I found that this is a better way to teach this. The conversations we’ve had over in Chemistry where, we’re bouncing around ideas about how to do things, we kind of have to find books that fit it. We can put a book together but it’s assembling other people’s stuff.

I think that a lot of people look at open sources, and think “Well, it’s free. It can’t be good.” My experience is “It’s free and it’s great!” I’ve used this book Chemistry: Atoms First 2e now it’ll be two years by end of the summer 2020. When you walk into class and when you put in your syllabus that the book is free, the students are going to love you, you know, you’re a hero. And the thing is, I don’t feel like I’m compromising my choice.

To learn more about Open Educational Resources, please visit our OER Research Guide.