When Dr. Heather Helms, UNCG associate professor of human development and family studies, announced to her class of 230 students that they were swapping their $200 textbook for free, online materials last spring, she was met with loud cheers and a round of applause.
College is an expensive undertaking, and textbooks are especially pricy.
Like Helms, many professors at UNCG are trying to make the financial burden of college a little more bearable by replacing textbooks with open education resources. These resources are available for free use and re-purposing, either through public domain or open licensing, and include items such as e-books, websites, journal articles, lectures and videos.
Beth Bernhardt, University Libraries’ assistant dean for collection management and scholarly communications, has been championing the use of open education resources for a number of years. It wasn’t until last year, however, that she and her team were able to provide a tangible incentive for professors to convert their curriculum from expensive textbooks to include free resources.
UNCG’s University Libraries and the Office of the Provost provided funds to offer $1,000 mini-grants to 10 professors during the 2015-16 academic year.
Over the next two years, University Libraries will be able to provide 31 additional mini-grants to professors through an $85,000 shared grant with East Carolina University.
Not only do open education resources cut down on student costs, they allow professors to share accurate, up-to-date information in a more engaging way.
“It takes a long time to produce a textbook,” Helms said, adding that information is already dated by the time a brand new textbook hits the shelves.
The freedom to incorporate more digital materials made a difference in Helms’ class as well.
“I felt they were really engaged with the material,” Helms said. “This delivery seems more relevant to them. It seems less archaic than a bulky textbook.”
Story by Jeanie McDowell, University Communications
Full story at UNCG Now.
Learn how UNCG faculty can help save students money in this initiative. See https://uc.uncg.edu/prod/cweekly/2016/08/09/help-lower-textbook-costs-students.