IU System Joins the Open Textbook Network

The IU system has joined the Open Textbook Network (OTN). Representing over 1,000 institutions, OTN is a consortium of campuses and systems aimed at reducing textbook costs using open educational resources (OER). OTN membership will give IU instructors across the state the ability to review open textbooks in the Open Textbook Library, a collection of nearly 700 textbooks in a variety of disciplines that are free to use, modify, and distribute. Over half of these textbooks have been Open Textbook Network Member badge reviewed by participating instructors, and 70% of the reviews have at least four stars. OTN has found that 45% of instructors who review a textbook go on to adopt it because of its high quality and comprehensiveness.

As part of the OTN membership, IUB staff will receive training on how to find, evaluate, and share open educational resources. Staff will then return to Bloomington to lead workshops for instructors, which introduce both OER and the Open Textbook Library. After each workshop, instructors have the opportunity to review one of the available textbooks in the Open Textbook Library. IUB instructors will receive a stipend for attending the workshop and posting a textbook review in the library. The OTN model provides a low-stakes way for faculty to learn more about OER while aggregating high-quality reviews that help others discern the strengths and weaknesses of OER in a specific subject area. Any IUB instructor of record is eligible to attend a workshop and write a review.

OTN membership also gives IU access to the Publishing Cooperative, an online community with resources to support open textbook publishing and modification. Most of the textbooks available through the OTN library are legally licensed to be modified. The Publishing Cooperative offers guidance to assist instructors in adapting an open textbook to suit their needs. If instructors want to develop their own textbook, the Publishing Cooperative also provides online tools, courses, and step-by-step guides on the open textbook publishing process.

Finally, as a member of the OTN, IUB will have an opportunity to shape the strategy and governance of a key organization that has furthered OER across the nation. Instructors and staff will also be able to monitor textbook usage and track student savings.

According to the OTN website, the average student is now spending $1200 annually on textbooks and supplies. Participating in the OTN will save students money on textbooks while helping instructors customize their course materials.

For more info about OER please visit the Open Scholarship website and be on the lookout for open textbook workshop dates in Bloomington in the Fall.

IU systemwide OTN membership was made possible through the Central Indiana Community Foundation. 

New Issue of The Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (JoSoTL) Published

The Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (JoSoTL) has published a new issue for October, 2019. The IU Libraries host over 60 issues of JoSoTL open access, dating back to 2001.

JoSoTL focuses on publishing rigorous, data-driven research, along with innovative case studies, essays, critiques, and articles that “contribute to deeper understanding of the issues, problems, and research relevant to the community of reflective teacher-scholars.”

Stylized cover of October, 2019 issue

The current issue includes articles exploring various factors that influence student success. “Instructor Response to Uncivil Behaviors in the Classroom: An Application of Politeness Theory,” for example, investigates effective classroom management. When a student is actively disruptive, the instructor must choose, on the spot, between a stern or gentle response to the student’s behavior. In these situations, the instructor risks losing credibility or unnecessarily embarrassing the student based on the firmness of his or her response. This article describes an innovative experimental study of student responses to instructor classroom management strategies. In the experiment, students viewed and responded to videos of classroom management scenes. The authors find that students respond the most positively to stern, direct instructor responses to disruptive behavior.

Another article, “Claiming Their Education: The Impact of a Required Course for Academic Probation Students with a Focus on Purpose and Motivation,” examines the effectiveness of requiring a remedial, credit-bearing course for college students on academic probation. The authors find that requiring a course with “a curriculum centered on helping students identify purpose and motivation” can be a “useful intervention for helping to dramatically increase the retention and graduation of students facing academic difficulty.”

Finally, “‘If They Don’t Care, I Don’t Care’: Millennial and Generation Z Students and the Impact of Faculty Caring” focuses on student reactions to faculty demeanor. Through in-depth interviews with Millennial students, this study investigates student perceptions of instructor “caring” and its impact on motivation. In general, the authors find that students perceive adaptable, empathetic instructors as being the most caring. Student were, for example, more comfortable with instructors who acknowledged the many other responsibilities student have in addition to their classwork.

These articles exemplify JoSoTL’s empirical approach to pedagogical scholarship. The Journal is published four times per year and is available in the Directory of Open Access Journals.