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Remixing open materials to make a better-fit text for students – featuring Bevin Etheridge

Why would you want to use Open Educational Resources (OERs) in your courses? OERs make it possible to provide low- and no-cost materials for your students. They can often be more accessible than traditional textbooks. OERs can also give you more freedom in designing your courses. While these reasons reflected some of the benefits that Bevin Etheridge recognized when I sat down to talk with her about her work with creating OER materials, they were just the starting point of the benefits that she saw.

Meet Bevin Etheridge

Bevin Etheridge is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Foundational Studies (CIFS). In 2023, Etheridge participated in parts one through four of the pilot run of the Open Education Development Series (OEDS), where she started work on a textbook for Ed-CIFS 503: Fundamentals of Education Research. This summer, she will continue with part five of OEDS and prepare those textbook materials for open publication.

Bevin Ethridge headshot
Bevin Etheridge

Etheridge’s upcoming textbook will teach education graduate students to write literature reviews for their field. “To write a literature review, one must not only understand how to evaluate and synthesize the literature but also how to locate and review sources for their quality and relevance,” she told me. 

These skills are also at the heart of the skill sets that faculty use when they evaluate and select OERs others have created for use in their courses. When Etheridge started teaching Ed-CIFS 503, there was no previous textbook on literature reviews used for the course. While there were texts available on evaluating research, most had only one chapter dedicated to literature review, and many were not specific to the course discipline. 

In Bevin’s Own Words

“An OER book can provide an up-to-date comprehensive approach to a topic utilizing multiple resources that can be continually revised to stay relevant. In creating this, you can draw on many different texts written by authors with varied areas of expertise. The critical part is, much like a literature review, to evaluate the sources for quality and relevance and synthesize them in a way that brings in your own voice and works best for your students — or other audience — at the time. A book like this can continue to be revised and added to by you, your colleagues and your students as new resources emerge. Not only can you invite other faculty to be involved in their area of interest to further develop the text, but also you can easily modify and add to the text as you respond to student feedback or as the curriculum is adjusted.

“Utilizing OER in the class offers many opportunities for student involvement beyond giving feedback on the text, and there are many other OER projects which students can get involved in. One of the things that working with OER can do is empower students to approach the sources they read critically. Just by knowing that they can alter them (unlike any other text), they can more readily see how they can engage with a text in an authoritative way that brings with it a sense of responsibility and respect for research and writing. Creating an OER text or other project that will not go somewhere to die on Canvas, but will actually be available for others to utilize and build on is a wonderful way to have students involved in authentic projects when being ‘out in the field’ is not necessarily an option.”

Why use OER?

“One of the sources I’m remixing from,” Etheridge told me, “is from [outside] faculty working in social work. They are constantly relating the material to case studies and resources specific to that field. So I can go in and switch out those case studies and resources with education links instead.” 

OERs provide opportunities to make your course materials more specific to your course in a variety of different ways. Not only can you make the material more appropriate for your discipline by supplementing existing OERs with examples and case studies that will best help your students, but you can also make it a better fit in place and time. Bevin told me about how in remixing the materials she is using in the creation of her open textbook, she could update references so they fit to the needs of students at Boise State in particular.

Of all the benefits of creating OERs I heard from Etheridge, what stands out the most from our conversation is how OERs can change a student’s relationship with their learning materials. “There is a divide between consuming and creating knowledge,” she said. When working with OERs, “you can change the relationship between students and knowledge. You can all produce something together.” 

When Etheridge piloted the first two chapters of her text, students were able to comment and make suggestions. This empowered her students to feel like they were not just consumers of knowledge, but also knowledge creators themselves.


If you’d like to learn more about how to use OER in your online course, request a consultation with an eCampus staff member.

Article Credit

Thanks to Gabe Montes de Oca, the eCampus Research and Innovation Consultant who worked with Bevin Etheridge to write this spotlight article.