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Interview: Prof. Shawna Brandle

A few weeks ago, your KCTL Open Education Resources FIG organizers spoke with Prof. Shawna Brandle of the Political Science department about her use of OERs in her classes. Prof. Brandle created an open access sourcebook for her Introduction to American Government class, and made it available as an iBook and as a .pdf. This text was required reading for her class.

According to Shawna, the book took “about a month of evening work” to put together using iBooks Author, a free tool specifically for creating iBooks , pdfs, and ePubs. If you are interested in trying out iBooks Author, Prof. Brandle says that you can get up to speed on the functionality of the software within about 15 minutes, meaning that you can be producing content for iTunes very quickly. This easy learning curve makes this tool very accessible to most educators.

As for the content, Prof. Brandle’s sourcebook is mostly made up of older primary source materials, most of which have no copyright restrictions. She also links out to some newer sources when copyright restrictions meant that she could not include those sources directly. Importantly, the text adapts existing content, which is one of the key advantages of OERs: faculty can remix any openly licensed content that they like. Not only does this provide building blocks for a custom OER, it promotes and propagates openly licensed content across higher education.

In light of what she’s has learned from teaching using OERs, Prof. Brandle hopes to revise and improve her iBook, and to write a scholarly article about her experiences teaching with OERs. Moreover, other faculty members have expressed interest in adopting her OER, which is a wonderful compliment to the work she has done putting it together.

Thank you, Prof. Brandle, for sitting down to speak with us about your work!

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