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Four faculty win SCoer awards for 2020

Congratulations to the four recipients of this year’s SCoer Faculty Awards. These instructors will incorporate freely-accessible resources in their classrooms, explore innovative, new pedagogical practices and save their students the cost of textbooks and supplemental materials.

The winners are Gerald Brasington, Department of Biological Sciences, Amanda Fairchild, Department of Psychology, Dexin Shi, Department of Psychology, and Ashley Williard, Department of Languages, Literature and Culture.

Now in its sixth year, the SCoer Faculty Award encourages the classroom use of Open Educational Resources (OER) – teaching, learning and research resources that are freely available to faculty and students. The award is sponsored by the University of South Carolina Libraries.

Winners attend a one-hour, University Libraries workshop and learn to identify or create OER for one class and commit to replace their traditional textbook with the free or library-licensed resources they’ve identified. Each winner receives a certificate and a $500 award.

SCoer Faculty Award recipients are selected by Student Government representatives and University Libraries staff.

“The selection committee looks closely at three determining factors: applicants who showed a strong desire to learn the process of finding and using online educational resources, the potential for long-term financial savings for students, and the availability of OER materials on the subject taught,” says Amie Freeman, Scholarly Communication Librarian. “These winners have shown great enthusiasm for using OER in their courses, and we congratulate them.”

Meet this year’s winners:

Gerald Brasington

Instructional Faculty
Department of Biological Sciences
College of Arts and Sciences

“I am a first-generation college and first-generation medical school graduate. Purchasing extremely expensive books caused financial hardship for me and my parents. I have dedicated my career to making materials low-cost or free so today's students will not face the same hardships as I did. Education is a gift, and I want to give that gift to my students without the fear or worry about affording the necessary materials.”

Amanda Fairchild

Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
College of Arts and Sciences

“I am strongly invested in reducing course material costs. In my own studies, I always appreciated when professors offered a course pack or other material in lieu of a textbook. I would like to be able to provide a similar opportunity for my own students.”

“My colleague, Dr. Dexin Shi, and I both teach PSYC 227 and use the same textbook intentionally. We actively collaborate to coordinate course content to positively impact our students and improve our materials. I seek to collaborate with Dexin with this new open resource experience, so we can continue to optimize and streamline our course while reducing the costs students incur.”

Dexin Shi

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
College of Arts and Sciences

"As a college professor, I understand that textbooks can be expensive for students. Actually, price is one important factor for me when selecting textbooks for my classes. For example, I teach introduction to Statistics to psychology majors, and many textbooks cost over $100, and some even over $200. The cost of textbooks can be a burden for many students, given the number of classes they take. I am glad to learn about this award opportunity to develop a zero-cost course. I believe that free access to course materials could enhance the learning opportunities and outcome for my students."

Ashley Williard

Assistant Professor of French
Department of Languages, Literature and Culture
College of Arts and Sciences

“Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, it is crucial to democratize courses by making content affordable and accessible. Language textbooks are expensive, and it can be challenging to get French books shipped from abroad. Students already face enormous pressure from high tuition and an uncertain economy. By taking the expense of course materials out of the picture, all students can instead focus on content from day one of the semester, regardless of their financial situation. Providing equal access ensures a more fair, diverse and rich learning environment.”

SCoer Faculty Awards are awarded on an annual basis. While the next award cycle will end in spring 2021, you can learn about adopting OER here.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.