UW campus receives grant for open textbooks

University of Wisconsin-Stout will begin pilot program to help connect students with open textbooks and other open resources

open-textbooksInstructional Resources Service at University of Wisconsin-Stout has received a $14,200 grant from the UW System to begin offering open textbooks to students.

IRS is collaborating with David Ernst, creator of the University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library. Ernst will visit campus in December to lead an instructor workshop to help faculty learn about and identify open textbooks.

“Open textbooks are full, real textbooks used by many faculty across the country and licensed to be freely edited and distributed,” said Bob Butterfield, director of IRS.

Stuckets pick up textbooks at Instructional Resources Service. In contrast, traditional textbooks have fixed and copyright-protected content, which comes with a cost to students and limits faculty academic freedom.

The grant is part of the UW System’s Innovation Fund.

According to the College Board, the average U.S. undergraduate student spends more than $1,200 a year on books and supplies. In contrast, a typical UW-Stout student pays $165.36 each year through segregated fees that support a textbook rental system.

“Maintaining this low cost for our students is a challenge. Open textbooks are part of the solution,” Butterfield said.

Open textbooks are just one type of open educational resource, which also can include videos, tests, software and course modules. Open educational resources allow faculty to revise and remix content, enhancing their academic freedom to customize course resources.

UW-Stout’s eStout program, which provides every undergraduate with a laptop, and growth of the e-textbook initiative were cited in the grant proposal as strengths that provide necessary infrastructure for a successful open textbook pilot.

UW-Stout will host the Open Textbook Workshop Thursday, Dec. 3. Space is limited to 25 faculty and instructors. Those interested are invited to reserve their spot. Attendees who complete a short review of an open textbook following the workshop will receive a stipend.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione