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UW Faculty Members Receive Open Textbook Grants

December 11, 2017

Two University of Wyoming faculty members recently received $6,000 in grant funding for the adoption of free and open textbooks, and the creation of open course materials.

UW Libraries awarded the grants to Danny Dale and Barbara Logan as part of its new Open Educational Resources (OER) Initiative.

Dale, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will use his grant to adopt open textbooks for introductory courses in physics and astronomy, and to create open lab materials for these courses. With her funding, Logan, an associate lecturer in the Department of History, will create open supplementary materials to use when teaching the “Western Civilization” course.

The OER Initiative aims to provide free and open textbooks to UW students. Textbook costs skyrocketed in the past decade, with an increase in price of over 70 percent since 2006. Many students report that they do not always buy the textbook for a class, even when they know that not having the text will hurt their grade. Others seek creative solutions to cut textbook costs.

“My friend and I had the same class, so we bought one textbook and shared it. But, we had really different schedules, and we both needed it at the same time,” says Veronica Coy, a UW freshman from Rock Springs who is majoring in elementary education.

With the adoption of open textbooks, students save money, and faculty can customize textbook content for their individual courses. For a course such as “General Astronomy,” a free textbook results in savings of over $10,000 for one section of 25 students.

Creative Commons licenses for open textbooks allow them to be easily shared, customized and updated, which is something that appealed to Dale. He points out that “these electronic texts are up to date and include the latest discoveries and concepts that have appeared in physics and astronomy. Traditional textbooks can’t compete.”

The open textbook grant program through UW Libraries was developed by librarians in response to requests from students and as part of the national OER movement.

“Today, academic libraries are taking leadership roles in promoting open access and open educational resources,” says Ivan Gaetz, dean of UW Libraries. “We are learning from our partner libraries, and we are impressed with the opportunities and results of supporting faculty in adopting OER.”

A major goal of UW Libraries’ strategic plan is partnering with faculty to support teaching and learning, which includes providing storage and access for open textbooks created at UW.

“I feel very lucky to work with library faculty and deans who care so much about collaborating with classroom instructors,” Logan says.

UW Libraries will award a second round of grants in spring 2018. Proposals for that award period are due March 1. The grant award committee will prioritize proposals for high-enrollment classes and applications that include UW and community college partnerships.

For more information, visit https://uwyo.libguides.com/oer.


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