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The Alt-Textbook Project, a collaborative initiative of the Egan Library and the UAS Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (C.E.L.T), provides faculty development and advocacy to increase awareness of Open Educational Resources (OER) and the innovative teaching and learning opportunities these tools can facilitate. Faculty use of OER signal an awareness of rising textbook prices and an effort to select course materials with student costs in mind. The "Resources" tab contains links to highlighted and subject specific OER and Open Textbook collections including many that have been peer-reviewed by participating UAS faculty.  

Addressing the Textbook Problem 

  • Runaway textbook costs on college campuses have become a major impediment to student success.
  • Textbook costs have outpaced inflation by 300% over the last 30 years.*
  • Students spend an average of $1,200 per year on textbooks.
  • 7 out of 10 students have forgone purchasing college textbooks because of cost, according to a recent PIRG survey on 13 college campuses.**

*Bureau of Labor Statistics    **Fixing the Broken Textbook Market, U.S. PIRG Report 

The Alt-Textbook Project supports faculty experimentation with open educational resources and promotes the open sharing of scholarship to remove barriers to knowledge and foster innovation.  This project aligns with Egan Library's strategic vision and included in the 2015 Recommendations of the Egan Library Program Review Institutional Review Commitee.  Evolving openness in higher education and sub initiatives of open access and open education are among the top trends in academic libraries (ACRL, 2014). 

Free and low-cost textbook alternatives (open textbooks and open educational resources) are an effective student success strategy supported by research (Bell, 2012; Irving & Roche, 2015) indicating a strong correlation between cost of attendance and student retention as well as the negative impacts of rising textbook costs on overall cost of attendance. Textbook alternatives additionally provide faculty and students with a more customizable teaching and learning experience leading to increased engagement.

Head to the Workshops tab to see how UAS faculty are working for a solution to the textbook problem.  

@ UAS 

Some example cases of efforts by UAS faculty and staff.

$20,000-30,000 estimated student savings on textbooks in year 1.    

  • Math 055: Elementary Algebra:  In spring 2016, the UAS Math department led by Assistant Prof. Megan Buzby purchased 100 used copies of the 8th edition of Elementary Algebra: Concepts & Applications by Bittinger, Ellenbagen & Johnson to be provided at no-cost for a semester length checkout at the Egan Library to enrolled students on the Juneau Campus.  These books cost the department $400.  If 100 students purchased this book new (9th ed) @ $200 the cost to students would be $20,000/semester.  Even used copies sell for $100 representing a savings to students of $10,000/semester!  That's one heck of a return on investment for students taking developmental courses.  
  • UAS Special Education Assistant Prof. Heather Batchelder utilized a collection development credit for her participation int he Pilot Alt-Textbook Workshop to purchase 3 unlimited user ebooks, The Formative Assessment Action PlanThe Comprehensive Guide to Special Education Law , Place Based Education in the Global Age which are regularly assigned as supplementary texts for several of her graduate level courses.  These texts cost the Egan Library $250.  If just 10 students utilize these library licensed resources instead of purchasing them that's a student savings of $2500/semester.  Prof. Batchelder had ~30 students enrolled in these 3 courses in AY15-16 so the student savings will likely be more like $7500 in AY16-17. Prof. Batchelder also hopes to transition her primary required text to an open textbook in the near future.
  • UAS Economics Assistant Prof. Anne Spehar intends to use the open textbook, Core-Econ as the primary required text for ECON 101 next time it is offered.  This open textbook will replace CoreEconomics 3rd Edition by Eric Chiang which is ~$150 new and $65 new.  This switch will represent a savings of $1300-3000 for every 20 students enrolled.
  • BIOL 311: Communicating Science is utilizing the library licensed ebook, Don't Be Such a Scientist : Talking Substance in an Age of Style as its primary text.  
  • ED 632: Educational Technology will utilize the library licensed ebook, Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning, and Creativity (2nd ed).  Egan Library invests $65 in licensing the unlimited user ebook.  Student cost to purchase the book would be $42 so with a small investment by the Egan Library, UAS students save $1680 ($42 x 40 students enrolled Fall 2016) in the first semester.  
  • UAS Construction Technology Assistant Prof. Robin Gilcrist will utilize the library licensed ebook, Up and Running with AutoCAD 2014 in CT 175: Introduction to AutoCad.   Egan Library invested $160, student costs to purchase the print book would be ~$90.  UAS students during Fall 2016 alone save $1800 (20 students enrolled).   
  • These examples represent ~200 students and a total savings of $20,000-30,000 (used vs new) or a savings of $100/student in one semester.  

      

@ Other Institutions

Schools across the country are offering similar programs, many also provide incentives for faculty contributions to open access publishing. Here are a few programs worth checking out:

Peer-Reviewed by UAS Faculty

Reviewed by Heather Batchelder, UAS Education faculty

  • Comprehensive Individualized Curriculum and Instructional Design: Curriculum and Instruction for Students with Developmental Disabilities/Autism Spectrum Disorders edited by Samuel Sennot and Sheldon Loman.   
  • Available formats:  PDF (complete text and individual chapters)
  • License type: Creative Commons -Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 International License

  • Overall rating 3.7/5  
  • Adoption/Applicability Potential: I would use this text in my EDSE 622 Course High Incidence. Students would read the text topics and access the resources provided to work on individual learning module activities.

  • Review: The text covers technology, behavior, and instruction for individuals with disabilities with an emphasis on individualization of curriculum. The content is accurate, error-free and unbiased. The content is not all encompassing. The chapters contain a brief introduction and background of the topic with strategies and methods used to enhance growth in all domains for students with disabilities mentioned (websites are provided within the text).  Major researchers in the field are cited and information provided is research-based and practical. The text presents multiple methods within one content area so the reader may explore each to determine which strategy best serves student needs. The text discusses the importance of person and family centered planning and collaborating with all stakeholders from various backgrounds and cultures.

    Content is up-to-date and addresses a relevant topic in the field. Traditionally pre and new in-service educators have difficulty with behavior and technology in the classroom. The text addresses technology use in the most current form and focuses on classic behavior management. Technology procedures and applications that benefit individuals with disabilities, on the most popular smart devices are provided with screen shots for clarity in the text. Practical data collection forms and working group forms are provided in the behavior section. The curriculum section is relevant and based on reliable research.

    The text is written clearly. The format is essentially introductory text with many citations and sources included for further information about suggested strategies/practices. The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology. The chapters are written by different authors in different styles but within the introductory/resource framework mentioned above.

    The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different times throughout the course. The chapters may be used individually and combined with other course sources. There are many practical forms and graphics that can be utilized in the classroom. The resources provided for further information can be incorporated into independent learning modules.

    The topics in the text are presented by the major topics of technology, behavior, and curriculum. The flow is not ideal and feels a bit choppy at times. The text contains no grammatical errors. The text is easy to read and the graphics and charts are user friendly. The resource “links” are not true links and must be selected and opened in a new window rather than clicking on a true link. If the links could be active the usability of the text would improve greatly. 

 

Reviewed by Ann Spehar, UAS Economics faculty  

  • Core-Econ returns to economics as a social science. It is a breath of fresh air.
  • Available in the following formats:  HTML | PDF | Mobile App (iOS, Android)
  • License type: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercialNoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
  • Overall rating 5/5   
  • Adoption/Applicability Potential: Adopting this textbook as an introductory textbook in economics would be very easy. The challenge is that you would need to develop your own assessments and learning materials outside of the book.

  • Review: This is an excellent textbook written by very well-known authors from MIT, London School of Economics Oxford, Harvard etc. It is partly funded by the Institute for New Economic Thinking.  It is an entirely new approach for teaching economics – a much needed new approach. It is empirically motivated from an historical perspective that relies on experiments and data rather than the traditional axiomatic mathematical approach taught today in most courses.  It is open-access and interactive based eBook that tries to focus on today’s problems and real world examples. It often goes against the typical assumptions of our economic models. For example, economic actors are not assumed to be rational, self-interested greed oriented maximizers. Instead, it shows how economic actors are also ethical, moral and social and discusses the impact this may have on the economic system. There is also a role played and discussed in regard to economic institutions and the impact these institutions can have on economic outcomes.  This was a very large collaborative project by several top rated universities. It incorporates insights not just from history but from a broader perspective that includes other disciplines as well as additional methodological approaches not usually found in standard economic textbooks.  I truly like their goal: to produce students who are: “philosophically grounded (because economics has questions of ethics), historically informed (why and what led to some economic practices and so on) and socio-politically engaged besides being competitively adept.”  The focus is on empirical and behavioral data as well as an historical perspective relying heavily on real world data and events. And importantly the text does not assume that economic history is a “dustbin of truth” (as was once said by a famous economists) Nor does the textbook promote the so called truths of Neoliberal economist who make light of our social institutions and focus instead on supposedly axiomatic universal truths that guide the economic system; truths such as self-interest, greed and rational behavior.  

    instructor access to Core-Econ provies PowerPoint slides,assessment material and quizlets and games to help students learn. Really amazing - and it is free!

  • Requires free registration for students and teachers (teacher verification required for access to supplemental material). 

Reviewed by Ann Spehar, UAS Economics faculty  

  • The Economics of Seinfeld is an excellent resource for engaging students as it not only provides the clip but also explains the concepts and how Jerry et al are thinking like economists.  The clips are funny yet informative and applies important economic concept to everyday life. It teaches students that we are all economist at heart and engage in economic thinking continually.  
  • Available in the following formats:  HTML  
  • License type: Transformative Fair Use of Copyrighted material 
  • Overall rating 4.6/5
  • Adoption/Applicability Potential:  I plan on using these clips as an introduction to economic concepts. I will also use them as a discussion board topic. 

  • Review:  These clips are excellent for students as it not only provides the clip but also explains the concepts and how Jerry et al are thinking like economists.  The clips are funny yet informative and applies important economic concept to everyday life. It teaches students that we are all economist at heart and engage in economic thinking continually.  There are additional clips found at the original website that include other economic concepts from other TV episodes – House, Greys Anatomy, Stossel, Friends etc.  I give this website a thumbs up for applicability, flexibility, relevancy and accuracy . 
  • The clips have been posted through Critical Commons "a public media archive and fair use advocacy network that supports the transformative reuse of media in scholarly and creative contexts."

Reviewed by by Robin Gilcrist, UAS Construction Technology faculty and program head

  • Adoption/Applicability Potential: This text is appropriate for second year Construction Technology students who have a fairly good grasp of the construction process.  The material is presented in a way that creates a framework for understanding a complex system which can be taken to whatever level the student and instructor wish to go.
  • Review:
    • Comprehensiveness: The book appears to cover the major topics discussed in Construction Management in a comprehensive format. The index gives a good overview of the topics to be covered in each chapter making it easy to identify the materials to be covered and in what order they will appear. 
    • Content Accuracy: To the best of my knowledge the material is accurate and error-free although I didn’t have the time to try all of the problems and scenarios introduced.  There are numerous example problems shown in the book that are meticulously explained, creating an excellent opportunity to assess comprehension of the material covered.
    • Relative Longevity: The topics covered in this text do not changed very rapidly and the text is up-to-date at this point in time.  A bonus for recommending this text is the fact that the history of the subject has been included which is not usual for a book on this topic.  Including the history makes the subject more interesting and helps put the current ideas into perspective.
    • Clarity: The material is presented in very easily digested chunks.  Rather than page after page of text the author has chosen to use summaries and bullet points to express ideas.  The use of bold text in many of the paragraphs provides visual cues that new topics are being introduced.  This will also aid the reader to find these topics when reviewing the material.
    • Consistency: Each chapter is presented in the same manner, with topic introduction followed by examples of how the topic applies to the overall subject.  Figures, illustrations and graphs are used frequently to illustrate the topic which will aid the visual learners who may struggle with some of the complex topics, and theories.
    • Modularity: The text and topics are arranged in a format that will allow the instructor to present the information at various depths and pacing.  An instructor may use this text for development courses; eliminating some chapters, and then reuse the same text to go deeper into the subject as students have more experience and have completed higher level quantitative courses.
    • Organization: The content is well organized.  It’s easy to find the topic within the index and presentation is in a logic sequence.
    • Interface: This text is a free downloadable PDF (requires free registration with bookboon.com) so the text and images are quite readable.  However, there are advertisements on many of the pages which is really distracting.  
    • Grammatical Accuracy: Although I did not read every page of the book I did scan most pages and did not find any grammar errors.

Reviewed by Heather Batchelder, UAS Education faculty

  • Leading with Cultural Intelligence from Saylor Academy Open Textbooks.  
  • Available formats:  Responsive HTML | PDF |  DOCx
  • License type: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License 
  • Overall rating 4.2/5
  • Adoption/Applicability PotentialI would use this resource as a supplemental source of information in EDSE 695 Ethics/Special Education. We discuss teaching with cultural reciprocity and the students would read the assigned sections prior to class and participate in role plays/self-awareness activities form the text using the graphic organizers provided.  

  • Review: Leading with Cultural Intelligence would be a valuable resource to use in EDSE 695 Course about Ethics in the field of special education (Professional and Ethical Practice). The text covers many areas and ideas of leading with cultural intelligence appropriately and provides a glossary to help readers understand the terms and refer to the definitions when engaged in an awareness exercise.

    The content is accurate, error-free, unbiased, and up to date. A website is listed in the text and readers are encouraged to visit the site for additional case studies including updated case studies. The information on cultural intelligence is relevant for leaders in all fields.

    The text is written in clearly and uses many examples to define terms. The text is easily reorganized and realigned with various aspects of the course as I would use various chapters, not necessarily in chronological order, to enable students to examine their beliefs and dispositions towards working with individuals from different cultures.

    The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion. The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems and distortion of images/charts. The graphic organizers in the text provide a good format to use in in class activities to clarify topics and thoughts. The text is free form significant grammatical errors. The text is easy to read and understand. The examples used throughout the text and the case studies in the appendix provide a relevant means to apply the information in the book to a leadership situation. Special Educators are leaders in the classroom and collaborate extensively with all stakeholders when serving students with special needs so the activities in the text are quite beneficial.

    Since this text is about interacting with multiple cultures it is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. The use of examples that are include of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. The most significant issue with the text is the fact that I would need to include Indigenous Cultures. I would seek advice from colleagues to make sure I included the correct information.

Reviewed by Heather Batchelder, UAS Education faculty

  • Plankton Dreams: What I Learned in Special Ed by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay 
  • Available formats:   PDF | Low-cost Print
  • License Type: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International  
  • Overall rating: 3.4/5.  
  • Adoption/Applicability Potential: I would use this source in EDSE 622/422 a methods course and EDSE 695/495 an ethics course to supplement content. The work is written by a person with autism and he writes using satire about his perspective of special education.

  • Review: The work is written in a satirical manner and is free from grammatical errors, current from the perspective of the author, clearly written, and consistent.  The piece is relevant and would be a good source of information to stimulate important conversations about issues in special education.  Since the work is written from an individual’s perspective about his experience in school it is difficult to assess accuracy and the work does not lend itself to using only portions of the content. The work may be an overall comprehensive explanation of the author’s educational experience and it addresses the exclusion felt by the writer. There are no charts or graphs and the piece is easily read.

    The author is honest and describes his experiences in school in detail utilizing humor. The content may be difficult for teachers to view but the author has significant insight into his educational experience as a student with autism. This resource brings a direct perspective of a student served in special education. The only issue I am concerned about is the fact that this piece refers to a student who purposefully manipulates situations in his social experiment conducted in school. If a pre or in-service teacher believes his or her students to be manipulative the relationship between student and teacher will not be as positive as it should. The author’s perspective does describe his compulsions to engage in “activities that are outside of the box socially” and that is a manifestation of his exceptionality. It is important that teachers do not have a reason to “blame’ a student for behavior that occurs as a part of the disability experienced by an individual.

    The text is a quick read and has many nuances relating to the delivery of special education services in the United States as perceived by an individual from India who experiences autism.

Reviewed by Ann Spehar, UAS Economics faculty  

  • Review: This textbook and many like it is free and cover the standard material of principles courses. The only thing I can really say without reading the entire textbook is that it appears reasonable and covers standard topics that principle course cover according to the table of contents. It appears that it has a number of instructor resources but they are not free. So all you can say about it is that the textbook that is supposedly free (Users are presented a donation option but can elect to continue without donating).  I really was not impressed. Not many images or links or other means to take advantage of the digital age of textbooks.  I trust that it is accurate as it had a list of contributors all of whom appear qualified. All said, I would not be inclined to use this textbook as I can use an eBook that currently comes with Pearson or most other standard textbooks and have students purchase the online learning environment such as Connect or MyEconLab or LaunchPad and it would costs the same to the student. But, these websites that I use have a significant amount of support and hold authority within our field. So I would be more inclined to do what I am currently doing as the costs to the student is the same and the learning environments that Pearson, Macmillan provide have proven their ground. No reason to take the risk involved with this new “free” textbook. The textbook may only be $5 but after purchasing the learning environment – which is not free – it turns out to be likely more expensive for the student in terms of the total package of support, instructor materials, credibility etc.

Reviewed by Karen Mitchell, UAS English faculty

  • Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence by Ami Guptill et. al.  Open SUNY Textbooks 
  • Overall rating:    5/5
  • License type: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License 
  • Available formats:  Responsive HTML | PDF |  ePub
  • Review:  In my search, I looked for texts and parts of texts that covered some of these variables form our SLOs for ENGL 092 and 110, aka Basic or Developmental College Writing. Although there is no one comprehensive text for writers at this level, it’s possible to reference and post parts of several available texts on Blackboard.  The two problems that occur frequently in students at this stage in their writing are lack of resources, especially monetary, and knowledge of the process of reading and their applicability to writing improvement. Also, students need to be able to discern and imagine different audiences for their writing, and the avenue for that comes from their knowledge of reading audiences. Therefore, I looked for these keywords when evaluating several texts.  
  • This text provides students with understanding of:
    • Reading syllabi and assignments
    • What values are usually in a college English classroom (discussion, academic freedom, etc.)
    • Frequently used vocabulary in written and oral classroom experiences (critical thinking, analysis, audience, etc.)
    • Frequently used writing strategies such as freewriting and their connections to professional writers
    • Simple, clear explanations of materials encountered across the disciplines such as rubrics, SLOs, etc.
  • Additionally, this text provides these tools:
    •  Links to other resources and contexts for reading and exercises
    • Links to outside audience resources for different genres
  • Although the chapters on research and citation are less useful at this level, we do study formatting in MLA and  simple in-text citation and work cited in 110 (required for final portfolio).
  • Useful chapters:
    • Intros/”Outros”—differences in 5 paragraph essays and organically constructed theses deriving from writing itself)
    • Constructing paragraphs
    • Clarity and style
    • Mechanics (basics)

Reviewed by Karen Mitchell, UAS English faculty

  • Writing in College: A Short Guide to College Writing by Joseph Williams and Lawrence McEnerney.  University of Chicago Writing Program. 
  • Overall rating:    5/5
  • Available formats:  Responsive HTML | PDF (chapter downloads) 
  • Review:  In my search, I looked for texts and parts of texts that covered some of these variables form our SLOs for ENGL 092 and 110, aka Basic or Developmental College Writing. Although there is no one comprehensive text for writers at this level, it’s possible to reference and post parts of several available texts on Blackboard.  The two problems that occur frequently in students at this stage in their writing are lack of resources, especially monetary, and knowledge of the process of reading and their applicability to writing improvement. Also, students need to be able to discern and imagine different audiences for their writing, and the avenue for that comes from their knowledge of reading audiences. Therefore, I looked for these keywords when evaluating several texts.  Williams is a pre-eminent rhetoric/composition scholar.
  • Pros:
    •  Each chapter is downloadable and separate as pdf.
    • Covers writing as a process and how to use the process
    • Chapter on revision how-to: often missing from texts are strategies to do this important step and how to practice it. Often revision is seen as simple editing.
    • Chapter on overcoming writer’s block
    • Uses bold, red text-boxes for headings—important for many developmental writers who often experience some degree of dyslexia/graphia

Reviewed by Karen Mitchell, UAS English faculty

  • Exploring Perspectives: A Concise Guide to Analysis by Randall Fallows
  • Overall rating:    4.5/5
  • Available formats:  PDF 
  • Review:  In my search, I looked for texts and parts of texts that covered some of these variables form our SLOs for ENGL 092 and 110, aka Basic or Developmental College Writing. Although there is no one comprehensive text for writers at this level, it’s possible to reference and post parts of several available texts on Blackboard.  The two problems that occur frequently in students at this stage in their writing are lack of resources, especially monetary, and knowledge of the process of reading and their applicability to writing improvement. Also, students need to be able to discern and imagine different audiences for their writing, and the avenue for that comes from their knowledge of reading audiences. Therefore, I looked for these keywords when evaluating several texts.   This text is useful for a teacher resource to analysis that would be good to use for constructing lessons for ENGL 110. Some limited use for ENGL 092. It provides an introduction to textual analysis. It describes writing as a recursive process, something that is often left out of other texts and discussions in the writing classroom.

Reviewed by Karen Mitchell, UAS English faculty

  • Writing for Success by Scott McLean
  • Overall rating:    4.5/5
  • Available formats:  Responsive HTML | PDF | EPUB | MOBI  
  • Review:   In my search, I looked for texts and parts of texts that covered some of these variables form our SLOs for ENGL 092 and 110, aka Basic or Developmental College Writing. Although there is no one comprehensive text for writers at this level, it’s possible to reference and post parts of several available texts on Blackboard.  The two problems that occur frequently in students at this stage in their writing are lack of resources, especially monetary, and knowledge of the process of reading and their applicability to writing improvement. Also, students need to be able to discern and imagine different audiences for their writing, and the avenue for that comes from their knowledge of reading audiences. Therefore, I looked for these keywords when evaluating several texts.
  • Pros: 
    • connects reading strategies such as SQ3R to writing
    • Useful and well constructed table of different kinds of writing students encounter across the curriculum with explanations and examples
    • Addresses “non-cognitive” variables such as study skills, types of learners, etc. that appear in SLOs for ENGL 092/110

OER and Open Textbook Collections

  • OpenStax College offers free, peer-reviewed textbooks in a select number of disciplines. These texts have been designed to meet course standards in scope and sequence.
  • All OpenStax textbook content is under a Creative Commons attribution license, allowing for the editing and customization of content to suit specific course needs.
  • A searchable catalog of free open textbooks developed by the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. Textbooks are reviewed by contributing faculty to ensure quality.
  • All textbooks are available under various Creative Commons open-content licenses.
  • College Open Textbooks is a large collaborative of non-profit and for-profit organizations designed to promote the use of open textbooks. The site has a collection more than 100 peer reviewed open texts available for classroom use.
  • All open textbooks are freely available for use without restriction.
  • InTech is a large open access publisher of books and journals in the fields of Science, Technology, and Medicine. The publisher currently has over 2000 books and 6 journals available for download.
  • All resources are freely available in PDF format and have unrestricted free use.
  • OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the open access of academic books in a wide range of languages. The library is fully searchable and is mainly focused on collecting in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Books from major academic publishers are available for download in PDF format. Licensing will vary based on the publisher.
  • An initiative of the State University of New York libraries, Open SUNY Textbooks publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed textbooks for use in higher education.
  • All Open SUNY Textbooks are available for use under a Creative Commons non-commercial license.
  • Developed by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education, OER Commons is a freely accessible online collection of open educational resources. This fully searchable catalog includes hundreds of open textbooks for use in higher education.
  • Unless noted otherwise, all site content is freely available under a Creative Commons non-commercial license.
  • Currently managed by the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, the Global Text Project provides a fully searchable textbook library focused on first year undergraduate curriculum.
  • Books are freely downloadable in an open document format, allowing for the easy modification of materials to suit specific course needs.
  • OER Repositories
  • An initiative of the California State University system, Merlot is free peer reviewed collection of educational materials meant for use in higher education.
  • The collection consists of tens of thousands of discipline-specific resources, course assignments, and contributor comments to guide instruction.
  • The Open Course Library is a collection of sharable educational materials that have been designed by college faculty, librarians, or other experts. Sponsored by the Washington State Board of Education, these resource have undergone assessment to ensure quality.
  • All materials are free, digital, and downloadable under a Creative Commons attribution license.
  • OpenStax CNX, an initiative of Rice University, is a repository of free educational materials. The content is modular, allowing users to easily remix and customize the site’s educational resources.
  • All hosted materials are available for download under a Creative Commons open-content license.
  • Amazon Inspire (beta), is a free service for the search, discovery, and sharing of digital educational resources (OER).
  • Requires free registration and access code.  
  • Targeted at K-12.

Subject Specific Collections

  • A free multimedia web-book, SmartHistory is one of the leading open education resources for art history.
  • A platform where art historians contribute educational materials in their areas of expertise -- this includes videos, images, annotated slide shows, and essays on a wide range of art history topics

A project developed by Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Chemistry, ChemCollective contains a multitude of resources to teach and learn chemistry at the undergraduate level. This includes virtual labs, tutorials, simulations, and concept tests. Users can search the collection by resource type or topic.

Start Talking: A Handbook for Engaging Difficult Dialogues in Higher Education by University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University.   

Start Talking (the culmination of a 2-year project sponsored by the Ford Foundation’s Difficult Dialogues initiativeexplores productive ways to engage difficult dialogues in classroom and other academic settings. It presents a model for a faculty development intensive, strategies for engaging controversial topics in the classroom, and reflections from thirty-five faculty and staff members who have field-tested the techniques. It is intended as a conversation-starter and field manual for professors and teachers who want to strengthen their teaching and engage their students more effectively in conversations about the most important issues of our time.  

The handbook is available as a complete PDF download or in chapters.  A print copy is also available in the Egan Library.   

Stop Talking: Indigenous Ways of Teaching and Learning by University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University.  This book describes a unique higher education project that broke some difficult silences between academic and Native communities by introducing a small group of non-Native faculty members to traditional Alaska Native ways of teaching and learning.  It presents a model for a Native-designed and run faculty development intensive, strategies for applying indigenous pedagogies in western learning environments, reflection on education by Alaska Native Elders, and reports from participants on what they learned and what they tried in their classrooms.  It is intended to stimulate discussion and reflection about best practices in higher education.

The handbook is available as a complete PDF download or in chapters.  Print copies are also available in the Egan Library.   

  • The Green Tea Press is a collection of free textbooks written by Allen B. Downey, a professor of computer science at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. These texts, many of which became O’Reilly publications, are freely downloadable in PDF format.
  • All resources are available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

#Reviewed by Ann Spehar, UAS Economics Faculty 

  • Core-Econ returns to economics as a social science. It is a breath of fresh air.
  • This is an excellent textbook written by very well-known authors from MIT, London School of Economics Oxford, Harvard etc. It is partly funded by the Institute for New Economic Thinking.
  • It is an entirely new approach for teaching economics – a much needed new approach. It is empirically motivated from an historical perspective that relies on experiments and data rather than the traditional axiomatic mathematical approach taught today in most courses.  
  • It is open-access and interactive based eBook that tries to focus on today’s problems and real world examples. It often goes against the typical assumptions of our economic models. For example, economic actors are not assumed to be rational, self-interested greed oriented maximizers. Instead, it shows how economic actors are also ethical, moral and social and discusses the impact this may have on the economic system. There is also a role played and discussed in regard to economic institutions and the impact these institutions can have on economic outcomes.
  • This was a very large collaborative project by several top rated universities. It incorporates insights not just from history but from a broader perspective that includes other disciplines as well as additional methodological approaches not usually found in standard economic textbooks.
  • I truly like their goal: to produce students who are: “philosophically grounded (because economics has questions of ethics), historically informed (why and what led to some economic practices and so on) and socio-politically engaged besides being competitively adept.”
  • The focus is on empirical and behavioral data as well as an historical perspective relying heavily on real world data and events. And importantly the text does not assume that economic history is a “dustbin of truth” (as was once said by a famous economists) Nor does the textbook promote the so called truths of Neoliberal economist who make light of our social institutions and focus instead on supposedly axiomatic universal truths that guide the economic system; truths such as self-interest, greed and rational behavior.
  • It should be mentioned that it is very new and does not yet have many instructor resources such as: PowerPoint presentations or assessments or other instructor resources that typically come with textbooks. So more work is involved in adopting this textbook. I would argue though it is worth it.
  • Requires free registration for students and teachers (teacher verification required). 

#Reviewed by Ann Spehar, UAS Economics Faculty 

  • The Economics of Seinfeld is an excellent resource for engaging students as it not only provides the clip but also explains the concepts and how Jerry et al are thinking like economists.  The clips are funny yet informative and applies important economic concept to everyday life. It teaches students that we are all economist at heart and engage in economic thinking continually.
  • There are additional clips found at the original website that include other economic concepts from other TV episodes – House, Greys Anatomy, Stossel, Friends etc.
  • I give this website a thumbs up for applicability, flexibility, relevancy and accuracy . Great tool to use to support online teaching.

Reviewed by Ann Spehar, UAS Economics faculty  

  • Review: This textbook and many like it is free and cover the standard material of principles courses. The only thing I can really say without reading the entire textbook is that it appears reasonable and covers standard topics that principle course cover according to the table of contents. It appears that it has a number of instructor resources but they are not free. So all you can say about it is that the textbook that is supposedly free (Users are presented a donation option but can elect to continue without donating).  I really was not impressed. Not many images or links or other means to take advantage of the digital age of textbooks.  I trust that it is accurate as it had a list of contributors all of whom appear qualified. All said, I would not be inclined to use this textbook as I can use an eBook that currently comes with Pearson or most other standard textbooks and have students purchase the online learning environment such as Connect or MyEconLab or LaunchPad and it would costs the same to the student. But, these websites that I use have a significant amount of support and hold authority within our field. So I would be more inclined to do what I am currently doing as the costs to the student is the same and the learning environments that Pearson, Macmillan provide have proven their ground. No reason to take the risk involved with this new “free” textbook. The textbook may only be $5 but after purchasing the learning environment – which is not free – it turns out to be likely more expensive for the student in terms of the total package of support, instructor materials, credibility etc.

The Inside, Outside, and Upside Downs of Children's Literature: From Poets and Pop-ups to Princesses and Porridge by Jenifer Jasinski Schneider.Children’s literature is written for children and youth, but the analysis of children’s literature requires careful attention to text as well insightful interpretation of the ways in which authors and illustrators present the human condition, the physical world, imaginative experiences, and global forces. Children's literature is also a $4-billion-a-year industry that impacts social practices, politics, financial markets, schools, literacy rates, history, and art. Whatever the reason for your interest, children’s literature is a big deal.

Available as a complete interactive download in pdf and ibook formats.  Individual chapters (pdf) may be downloaded and videos (mp4) may be downloaded or streamed.  

  • The Kansas State University Human Nutrition (HN 400) Flexbook 
  • The CK‐12 foundation defines a flexbook as a “free and open source textbook platform whereone can build and edit collaborative textbooks.” The HN 400 Flexbook fits this definition, but Ifeel the name is particularly accurate due to the flexibility of Google Docs. Students in additionto having access through Google Docs, can download the flexbook as an .odt, .pdf, .rtf, .doc,text, or html file giving them flexibility to use the document how they would like. Students canalso choose whether they would like to read the flexbook digitally or print and read it on paper.The flexbook is divided into 13 chapters with sections and subsections.
  • HN400 is a 3‐hour, intermediate‐level, nutrition course at Kansas State University taught on campus every spring semester, and all 3 semesters (fall, spring, summer) via the Division of Continuing Education. Ideally on‐campus students take the course during the spring semester of their sophomore year. Most on‐campus students in the class are majoring in Nutritional Sciences, Nutrition and Health (previously Public Health Nutrition), Nutrition and Kinesiology, Athletic Training, or Dietetics. There is an increasing number of Biology, Life Sciences and other majors taking the course. Online, more students are nontraditional and a little more than half are distance dietetics students (K‐State offers a distance dietetics degree).

  • The Digital Public Library of America provides access to a wide range of content from the nation’s museums, libraries, and archives. This includes links to millions of photographs, manuscripts, books, and videos.
  • The copyright status of DPLA content varies. Individual rights information is displayed next to each resource.
  • Harvard’s Open Collections provides access to historical resources from the University’s libraries, archives, and museums.
  • Harvard has provided their own rights statement that allows for teaching or research use of all the site’s resources.
  • The American Institute of Mathematics has provided a list of open-access textbooks that have been judged to meet the standards of the organization’s editorial board.
  • The copyright status of these resources varies; a clear licensing statement is offered after opening each link.
  • MedEdPORTAL is a free peer-reviewed publication outlet provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The site can be used to access various educational materials like tutorials, virtual patients, simulation cases, videos, and assessment tools.
  • The site’s content is under various creative commons copyright usage licenses, each of which are clearly stated next to the resource.
  • Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking is an open textbook written by Lansing Community College Philosophy professor Matthew VanCleave.  
  • The goal of the textbook is to provide the reader with a set of tools and skills that will enable them to identify and evaluate arguments.
  • The book is intended for an introductory course that covers both formal and informal logic. As such, it is not a formal logic textbook, but is closer to what one would find marketed as a “critical thinking textbook.”
  • Developed at the University of Houston, Digital History is interactive website meant to support the teaching of American History at the high school and collegiate level. The sites various resources are searchable by topic and historical era.
  • The website offers a clear statement on the use of its resources.

Open Educational Resource Community Websites

WikiEducator

http://wikieducator.org/Main_Page

OER Hub

The Open Education Research Hub (OER Hub) are leaders in researching the impact of open educational resources (OER) on teaching and learning practices. Our aim is to raise the quality and profile of research in this field. OER Hub has three key objectives:

  • To build capacity in the OER research domain
  • To conduct research into OER related issues
  • To produce resources for the OER research community
Open Educational Resources Toolkit

http://openeducationalresources.pbworks.com/w/page/24836480/Home

Open Professionals Education Network (OPEN)

https://open4us.org/

The next Alt-Textbook Info Session: TBA

Interested in learning more about what faculty are doing and can do to utilize open educational resources and other no or low-cost alternatives to textbooks?  At this info session participants will have an opportunity to explore OER, discuss strategies for peer-review or strategically vetting existing resources, efforts to facilitate creation of OER or open-textbooks as an option for scholarly publication.  No experience necessary, come and see how OER can become an additional tool in your teaching toolbox and learn how your selection of course materials can have a big impact on student success.         

Pilot Alt-Textbook Workshop, Spring 2016

The first workshop provided 5 UAS faculty participants the opportunity to identify and review OER content and explore the potential benefits these resources provide in terms of student engagement and success. This project was awarded Academic Innovation Funding (FY16) to provide participant incentives for up to 8 faculty members.  Resources reviewed by UAS faculty are available on the "Resources" tab.  Results of the pilot will be presented at Convocation 2016.  

The pilot workshop was led by Egan Library Faculty: Jonas Lamb and Jennifer Ward.  

Participants contributed to this annotated bibliography of all OERs reviewed as well as related scholarship.  

Open Educational Resource Reviewed +  OER in Pedagogy and Practice Annotated Bib

"I am so glad I participated in the Alt Textbook workshop as I would not have taken the time to explore the OERs without the structure of the workshop. I enjoyed learning about more quality options for my students and sharing information with colleagues. I would participate in an additional workshop and I am motivated to work with our wonderful library faculty to explore OERs further!" --Pilot workshop participant.  

"The workshop was very helpful. By participating in a structured workshop I had the help I needed to explore the many search engines available for OER resources. I would not have reviewed this topic and found the resources I did had it not been for this workshop. I enjoyed learning from the other participants as well as form the facilitators; Jonas and Jennifer. Thanks for this faculty development opportunity. I would definitely participate in another workshop like this." --Pilot workshop participant.  

Learning Outcomes

Participants will:

  • identify and evaluate Open Educational Resources relevant to their field.
  • identify and annotate a peer-reviewed article on the pedagogical efficacy of OER.
  • present findings of exemplary OER in their field and contribute their annotated review to a bibliography made available on the UAS Alt-Textbook web page.
  • contribute to the curation of a web accessible, peer-reviewed, subject organized list of OER.

Registration

Our Spring 2016 workshop is complete.  We hope to offer additional info sessions and workshops in AY16-17.  For additional information, contact Jonas Lamb.

Handouts and presentation Spring 2016 Workshop

Alt-Textbook Handouts (all files below in Google Drive foler)

  • 4/5/16 Presentation slides (pdf)
  • Using Licensed Library Resources Handout (pdf)
  • Assignment Handout (doc)
  • OER Rubric and Review Form (doc)
  • Alt-Textbook participant reviewed OER and Research Bibliography.
  • Saving Chapter PDFs from Ebrary ebooks. 

Sample OER and Open Textbook Research Literature

Petrides, L., Jimes, C., Middleton-Detzner, C., Walling, J., & Weiss, S. (2011). Open textbook adoption and use: implications for teachers and learners. Open Learning, 26(1), 39-49.

MacMillan, M., & Rosenblatt, S. (2015). They've found it. can they read it? Adding academic reading strategies to your IL toolkit. Paper presented at the ACRL 2015 conference, Portland, OR.  pp. 757-762. 

Finding and Using OER 

This is a great book available in the Egan Library.

Interactive Open Educational Resources: A Guide to Finding, Choosing, and Using What's Out There to Transform College Teaching (2014) by John D. Shank.  

2 Print Copies are availabel for checkout in CELT (Egan Library room 211),  UAS ebook http://bit.ly/alttext1  Focus on preface, chapters 3-7 finding OER, chapter 8 selecting and evaluating OER and chapter 10 assessing student impact.

Egan Library buys electronic versions of key texts and supplemental readings! 

The UAS Egan Library will acquire e-Books classroom support if they are available electronically. The Alt-Textbook Project supports the purchase of e-books as a strategy for reducing costs for students while increasing access to recommended or required readings. 

Once purchased, UAS has perpetual rights to the e-Book and it remains within our online collection. We make every attempt to purchase e-Books with unlimited access. However, if a limited number of users is our only option for an e-Book, we will consult with you prior to purchase.  

This is one way UAS Faculty can address the problem with textbooks and increase students access to learning materials (and no waiting for books to arrive).    

Simply fill out the form below. We’ll do the rest!  Requests must be made by faculty.   (Read more about e-Book collections)

Contact Information
Course Information
e-Book Information
 
 

Questions?  Contact Us! Content maintained by Egan Library.

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