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.