Stories of JMU Faculty Using OER

Every year, more JMU faculty incorporate open and affordable course materials into their classes. The stories below share a variety of ways JMU faculty have been exploring, adopting, and creating open educational resources (OER). 

photo of Jim Bywater

Jim Bywater, Ph.D. 

Courses: College of Education graduate courses

Students in Dr. Jim Bywater’s classes do not spend any money on textbooks for his courses. That’s because he is using zero-cost course materials for all his classes. If you’re imagining “e-textbooks” only, think again. Dr. Bywater’s course materials are Canvas-based collections of articles, book chapters, videos, and podcasts, which he customizes every semester. As Director of Learning Design and Technology programs in JMU’s College of Education, Jim Bywater leads by example, giving the current and aspiring teachers in his classes a chance to experience open educational resources and other zero-cost resources from a student perspective. 

“I’m thinking about readings as a carefully curated set of library resources rather than chapters from a textbook. I feel freer to change or add readings that better reflect what students need and how understandings shift.” – Jim Bywater, Ph.D.

photo of Diana Galarreta-Aima

Diana Galarreta-Aima, Ph.D.

Course: Medical Spanish

Dr. Diana Galarreta-Aima received a $30,000 Open Course Grant–open to all JMU faculty–to create an open educational resource: an online training program for medical Spanish. As professor of Spanish and coordinator of the Medical Spanish minor at JMU, she shared her expertise and knowledge with aspiring interpreters and medical providers around the world and reduced the cost of textbooks for JMU students. Learn how Dr. Galarreta-Aima leveraged JMU Libraries services to create and share her open course. 

“We don’t sometimes think about the cost of textbooks for students. It adds up, you know? This initiative tries to make education open and available. I think that’s what education and universities are for, right? To share education and ideas. I think the more people know about this the better.” – Diana Galarreta-Aima, Ph.D.

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Jeannie Harding 

Courses: History 225

JMU adjunct professor Jeannie Harding took advantage of a $2,000 pilot grant from JMU to swap out expensive course materials for open educational resources (OER) to reduce textbook costs for her students.

“It’s not often you get a stipend so nice to do something like this, so I just really appreciate it. The process was easy, and I hope more people will get on board with it.” – Jeannie Harding, adjunct professor at JMU

Learn More

Check out these Q&As with Jim, Diana, and Jeannie to learn more about their stories and JMU Libraries services like instructional design and media production that can help you to create open educational resources.

What’s My Next Step?

Thanks for helping lower the barriers to education for JMU students.


Contact Liz Thompson, our Open Education Librarian.