Student Success Librarian Jackie Mayse recently sat down with faculty member Beth Hoag to discuss her experiences transitioning to the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) in her classes at CIA. Thank you, Beth for sharing your journey with OER-enabled pedagogy!

Can you introduce yourself? What is your role at CIA?

Sure. I'm Beth Hoag and as of this year I am a Senior Professor of Practice in the Liberal Arts Department. Prior to this year, I was a full-time lecturer for four years, and before that I was an adjunct. In total, I have been here for almost 10 years. 

Can you tell me about your journey in OER-enabled pedagogy in your classes?

As the only Anthropologist and faculty member teaching anthropology at CIA, I have always designed my own curriculum which gives me a wide latitude to pick books that I think are most appropriate for my courses. When I started ten years ago, I was using commercially available textbooks, but I quickly looked around to find the best textbook available that was reasonably priced or was easily accessible as a used book. The cost of textbooks has always bothered me, especially since my students are unlikely to use an Anthropology textbook again for another course. Later on, maybe the second or third year here, I worked with the publisher of two textbooks to offer an unbound copy through the bookstore. That saved students a bit of money and was the beginning of my thinking about how to make textbooks more affordable.

How long ago did you start adopting OERs in your classes?

The first time that I really thought about an open access book was when the American Anthropological Association, and the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges, worked together to put out a first of its kind open access Cultural Anthropology textbook. An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology was first published in 2017 and is now in its second edition.

What motivated you to try this approach?

I decided to switch to open access textbooks in my classes when those two books became available. I have always been concerned with the cost burden of textbooks to students and an open access textbook solved that issue. Students can access them at no cost. I also like that Open Access textbooks are edited by many different people. So, although it's a single book, there's a wide variety of authors, points of view, and perspectives. Representation of diverse voices was important to me and motivated me to use open access books. 

How has the library played a role in you adopting OERs in your classes?

Through working with Laura, I realized that there were eBooks that could be accessed through the library that I could use in my classes. These weren't textbooks but books that the publisher provided access to through the library. So these weren't necessarily open access, but I started using them because they are available through the library at no additional cost to students. When I realized that these books could be accessed through the library, I began to think "How can I design an entire syllabus and reading selection for courses that don't rely on a textbook?". Currently, three of my courses are designed around resources that are solely accessed through the library. 

Also, the work of Jackie Lagunzad, who manages course reserves for faculty, has been phenomenal. In my Canvas course reserve, everything in my syllabus is listed in the order that we read it with the permalinks. Truly, the support I have received from the library is phenomenal. 

If you could give one piece of advice to other faculty members trying to implement OER materials in their classes, what would it be? 

I think an initial small step, and this is always going to be discipline specific, is to first of all see if your textbook can be replaced with something else. That's either an OER or pieced together. There are a lot of places that may not have an entire textbook, but might have resources that can be replaced. So I think, first and foremost is looking through your discipline to see who is out there doing that kind of work. I would also suggest that you talk to Laura and the Library staff to see what other resources are accessible to your students.

As we wrap up, is there anything else you'd like to share about OER textbooks?

I just think that people shouldn't be afraid of it. It's really amazing. Taking a little bit of time or to work with our librarians, to find out what resources are available. Because the benefits for ourselves and our students, I think far outweigh the time or any negative. I can't even think of a real negative. What would not be right with using free and openly accessible textbooks? It also democratizes education a little bit, it diversifies voices, it supports students by not charging them more money. There's really, I don't think, any single downside.


In our discussion Beth talks about the use of open access textbooks (OERs), as well as eBooks and articles accessed through the library. The materials accessed through the library are examples of affordable learning resources, and are not open educational resources (OERs).

The open-access textbooks Beth uses in her classes are:

  • Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology, first published in 2017, now in its second edition

  • Explorations: An Open Invitation to Biological Anthropology, first published in 2019, also in its second edition

  • Gendered Lives: Global Issues, for her gender class, published in 2022