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UW Libraries Names Alt-Textbook Grant Recipients

January 27, 2020

University of Wyoming Libraries recently awarded alt-textbook grants to five faculty members and four graduate students to implement open educational resources (OER) in their classes this spring.

The open textbooks resulting from the grants are projected to save UW students more than $40,000 each semester in addition to the $141,233 already saved by UW students since the program launched in spring 2018.

“With the Alt-Textbook Grant Program, University of Wyoming Libraries hopes to continue to encourage the creativity and innovation we have seen from past applicants,” says Hilary Baribeau, digital scholarship librarian. “What was interesting for this cycle of grant applications was to see how many applicants are already committed to teaching low- or no-cost textbook courses. The OER grant program will help these recipients not only continue to support UW students, but potentially create OERs that will be used in classrooms around the country.”  

Grants are awarded to instructors who adopt, adapt or create new open textbooks or other materials for their courses. Grant awards range from $1,500 to $3,000.

The grant recipients are:

Academic Affairs

-- Meg Van Baalen-Wood, instructional design and technology coordinator, and senior lecturer in the Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning. Van Baalen-Wood teaches “Technical Writing in the Professions.” She will redesign her course by compiling current Lumen OER text and supplementing the material with online and PDF readings.

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

-- Ruben Aleman, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. The grant will support the creation of six full-soil profiles via 3D modeling for use as an interactive educational resource in the “Soil Genesis and Morphology” course. The profiles will allow students to view the samples in a laboratory setting, saving students field trip expenses to disparate sites to study soil.

-- Anna Schwyter, a graduate student in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. Schwyter will use grant funding to update and adapt a previous OER laboratory manual, which was published in 2018 for the “Introduction to Soil Science” course. The updates will enhance active learning through incorporation of a “flipped classroom” technique. The grant will assist in the creation of video lectures.

-- Karen Vaughan, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. Vaughan will use funding to create open materials for her “Soil Genesis and Morphology” course. The course materials will include redacted note sheets and alternative media content to augment the existing course content.

College of Arts and Sciences

-- Sonia Rodriguez-Hicks, an assistant lecturer in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. Rodriguez-Hicks will use a flipped classroom approach in her “Third Year Spanish I” course. Multimedia and OER materials will be used outside of the classroom, while the class time will be used for discussion, interactive activities, oral presentations and writing workshops.

-- Michelle Mason, a graduate researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Mason will create question banks and a lab manual for the “General Physics II” course in summer 2020. These materials will supplement the current OER textbook that is currently used for the course.

-- Phineas Kelly, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology. Kelly will create a new digital textbook, titled “The Many Faces of Culture: Exploring Global Human Diversity.” The digital textbook will incorporate video clips, traditional and immersive 360 virtual reality, photographs, audio recordings and text. The OER digital textbook will be used in the “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology” course. 

College of Education

-- Joseph Schroer, an assistant professional lecturer in the School of Teacher Education. Schroer will adopt a current open source text to his course. The adoption of the OER material will support current College of Education programs as part of the Trustees Education Initiative, making the materials accessible for online courses for students throughout the state of Wyoming. The open source text will be used in the “Foundations of Human Development and Learning” course. 

College of Health Sciences

-- Sandra Leotti, an assistant professor in the Division of Social Work. Leotti will use the grant funding to support the development and adaptation of open curriculum modules for the “Human Behaviors and the Social Environment I” course. The modules will incorporate traditional reading materials, as well as guided discussions, reflection prompts, case studies and multimedia to enhance student learning.

UW Libraries will award another round of grants for the 2020-21 academic year. Proposals for that award period are due April 15. Informational sessions about the grant and the application process will be held during National OER Week, which takes place during the first week of March.

For more information, visit, call Baribeau at (307) 766-6860, or email

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