Faculty and instructors can now apply for a $1000 grant from the University Libraries to adopt open textbooks and content for their courses. The Libraries will award up to $10,000 in grants annually.
The grant initiative provides a financial incentive for faculty and instructors to switch from traditional textbooks to free, high-quality open textbooks and course content. Open textbooks have a license that allows instructors to use and adapt them for their courses and students to access them for free online.
Grant proposals are accepted now through Dec. 4. Recipients will be notified by Dec. 21. Applicants must be teaching a summer or fall 2021 or spring 2022 course to be eligible for the grant. Applications for undergraduate courses with high enrollment will receive priority consideration.
The Libraries awarded nineteen grants to faculty and instructors in 2019. Six instructors implemented their open textbooks in the spring 2020 semester, resulting in an estimated savings of over $184,000 for 798 students.
The instructors reported that their students were appreciative of not having the extra expense of textbooks. In a follow-up survey, 69% of student participants reported that they felt their class performance was better because they had access to a free textbook. One student commented that "the free textbook provides significant financial relief. It caused me to have a more positive attitude towards the class right away, and I believe this encouraged me to do better in the overall course."
Grant recipients can work with librarians to identify open textbook options for their courses. They may also work with WMUx instructional designers for support in altering their course design.
Open Educational Resources and Textbooks
Open educational resources (OER) are educational materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license. This permits them to be freely used, changed and shared with others. OER includes everything from images and videos to textbooks and course curriculums.
Faculty at colleges and universities have developed open textbooks and course content in response to concerns about traditional textbooks' affordability. Textbook prices have risen 1,041% since 1977, higher than medical costs and the Consumer Price Index.
Many students who can't afford their textbooks have found a simple but concerning solution—they don't buy them. According to research sponsored by Florida Virtual University in 2018, 64% of students did not purchase a required textbook. In addition, 42% of students took fewer courses, and 22% dropped a course due to textbook costs. Open education resources provide an alternative to expensive textbooks.
Visit the Open Education Resources website to learn more about the open education initiative at WMU.