Applications for Course Material Fellows Accepted until December 1

According to the most recent survey data from the College Board, the average full-time, on-campus undergraduate student at a four-year school is estimated to have spent $1,240 on books and supplies during the 2019-2020 academic year. To address the rising cost of textbooks for IU students, IUPUI and IUB Libraries have created a Course Material Fellowship Program with support from the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council (WPLC). The program helps to address the issue of rising textbook costs for students at IUPUI, IUB, and IUPUC, in part by educating instructors about the benefits of Open Educational Resources (OER). OER are learning materials (tutorials, syllabi, worksheets, interactive experiences, lesson plans, and blogs) shared under an intellectual property license that enables others to reuse, revise, remix, retain, and redistribute them. In addition to OER, fellows will have the option of creating/ editing  Pressbooks with their own material and/ or using library eBooks and databases. The Program recognizes that a mix of these solutions is often required in order to move to zero cost course materials. 

One of the goals of the program is to centralize support for instructors working with the variety of affordable course material solutions available. In addition to librarians specializing in an instructor’s content area and OER, fellows will have access to experts from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) and the UITS Digital Education Programs and Initiatives Team. 

The Fellowship Program is a result of years of work building awareness about course material affordability solutions, including a symposium to discuss the issue in 2018, CITL and library partnerships to raise awareness about OER within STEM, University Information Technology Services (UITS) providing access to the Pressbooks platform to easily organize and publish books, and, most recently, the IU system joining the Open Education Network.  

Instructors at IUB, IUPUI, and IUPUC can learn  more about eligibility, application details, and expectations of the Program by visiting the Course Material Fellowship Program website. Applicants are required to fill out a short qualtrics survey with details about their course on the Fellowship Program website in order to be considered. Applicants must be an instructor of record at IUB, IUPUI, or IUPUC.  

Selection will be based on a variety of factors such as potential student savings, enrollment rate, interest in the Fellowship Program and its benefits, and sustainability of resources. The Fellowship Program seeks a diverse group of applicants who have a passion for making educational resources more accessible. 

Please e-mail Sarah Hare (scrissin@iu.edu) with questions. 

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.