The University of Akron’s Affordable Learning Initiatives
The University of Akron’s University Libraries and Instructional Services has been working to advance the adoption of open textbooks across multiple courses. Combined with efforts from University Council’s Textbook Committee, a list of the top 50 enrolled courses with the potential for open/affordable textbooks and open educational resource adoption has been compiled. The textbook committee is also researching the cost of materials for popular majors / programs to help spread awareness of material costs to faculty.
Currently, UA is in the process of integrating Open Educational Resources and Open Textbook Adoption into multiple faculty development opportunities around campus. Each semester, University Libraries hosts a “Designing and Developing Your Online / Hybrid course Workshop”, which discusses Fair Use, Copyright, Creative Commons, and Open Educational Resources. These topics are introduced in the context of designing a new course or re-designing an existing course, as planning for open resources can take a considerable amount of time. Faculty are encouraged to evaluate open textbooks and resources to determine if they align to their course and module objectives. The workshop itself contains around 30 hours of formal instruction from our instructional design and multimedia team, and the entire experience is “gamified” to engage our faculty with each of these topics. Since 2013, we have taught 130+ faculty about Open Educational Resources through our workshop, with two faculty adopting open / affordable texts recently. Numerous other departments are now in the preliminary stages of either authoring, curating, or adopting open/affordable texts and resources.
We also have a new course called “Exploring Biology”, which makes use of the Boundless.com Open Biology textbook. This text has since been placed into Lumen Learning’s open textbook repository. Through the adoption of this open text in addition to identifying some affordable supplemental materials, we have been able to lower the cost of materials by 85%. We are continuing to develop additional courses utilizing open textbooks over this next year.