August 8, 2019
Austin Downey, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has been awarded one of four SCoer Faculty Grants from the University of South Carolina Libraries. Now in its fifth year, the SCoer Faculty Grant encourages the classroom use of Open Educational Resources (OER) – teaching, learning and research resources that are freely available to students.
The $500 grant will allow Downey to incorporate open educational resources into his classroom and explore innovative new pedagogical practices, saving his students significant sums of money. He plans to use the grant to develop a textbook, code, YouTube videos, and a no-cost Mechanical Vibrations (EMCH 330) course that will be free of any copyright issues or software costs, allowing it to be freely shared.
"[Mechanical] Vibrations is an excellent candidate for OERs as the fundamentals do not change, the topic is taught at every institution, and the basic theory of linear vibrations has not changed in 100 years,” Downey said.
To participate in the program, Downey attended a one-hour workshop hosted by the University Libraries to identify and create OER materials for his courses. As part of the program, he has also committed to switching from the use of a traditional textbook to an OER or library-licensed resource in one of their classes.
The other SCoer Grant winners include Jennifer Pournelle, School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment; Timothy Shaw, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; and Meredith DeBoom, Department of Geography.
“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,” said Amie Freeman, Scholarly Communication Librarian. “These winners have shown great enthusiasm for using OER in their courses, and we congratulate them.”