Lowering student textbook costs among Oct. 24 faculty workshop incentives

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The high cost of some course materials can impede students’ academic success, especially because the price tag prompts many students to avoid purchasing them. A workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 24, accessible to all Penn State faculty instructors, aims to lower students’ textbook costs and any perceived obstacles in favor of adopting high-quality, free or low-cost open educational resources.

Open textbooks — full, real textbooks used by many faculty across the country — have multiple benefits over individually purchased textbooks. They are licensed to be freely used, saving students money. They also provide faculty with high-quality content that can be freely customized and distributed for their courses.

Faculty who RSVP to participate in the Oct. 24 Open Textbook Network workshop will explore open textbook options for their course materials and will receive a $200 stipend for writing a short review of an open textbook from the Open Textbook Library.

Penn State joined the Open Textbook Network (OTN), centered at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Open Education, in January 2017 to help support the use of high-quality, affordable course content. OTN helps support colleges and universities’ instructional use of open textbooks and practices. Its Open Textbook Library is the premiere resource for peer-reviewed academic textbooks, all of which are free, openly licensed and complete, according to its website. According to OTN, 70 percent of its textbooks’ reviews have four stars or higher, and all reviews and comments are freely available.

The Open Textbook Network workshop, hosted by Penn State University Libraries, is available for instructors’ in-person attendance in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, and also will be live-streamed via Mediasite Live for remote viewing from any Penn State campus.

Faculty who RSVP to participate in the workshop will explore open textbook options for their course materials and will receive a $200 stipend for writing a short review of an open textbook from the Open Textbook Library.

Registered faculty who are unable to sit in on the workshop in real time — either in person or online — are able to watch the online recording, which will be archived at https://live.libraries.psu.edu for later viewing. Faculty who work in subject areas for which open textbooks are not currently available for review will not be eligible for the stipend but are encouraged to attend to learn more about open textbooks.

Jonathan Lashley, a senior instructional technologist at Boise State University and a presenter for the Open Textbook Network, will lead the workshop from 10 a.m. to noon.

A second session, a support workshop available for librarians, instructional designers and staff, will be presented from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Oct. 24  in Foster Auditorium and online for remote viewing via Mediasite Live. The afternoon session will be led by Meg Brown-Sica, assistant dean for Collections and Scholarly Communication at Colorado State University Libraries. The afternoon session also will be archived at https://live.libraries.psu.edu for later viewing.

The OTN workshop events at Penn State build upon the University’s first Open Educational Resources Summit, hosted by the University Libraries in spring 2016. The workshop also is being held during International Open Access Week, Oct. 23-29, related to a comparable initiative Penn State has adopted to lower the cost of and accessibility to scholarly publications.

For more information about the Open Textbook Network — and to register for the 10 a.m. faculty workshop and be eligible for the $200 stipend — email Amanda Larson, open education librarian, at acl49@psu.edu.

For more information about open educational resources at Penn State, visit http://oer.psu.edu.

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Last Updated October 11, 2017