CELT, library promote increased use of open educational resources

The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), university library and office of the senior vice president and provost have launched a grant program to help faculty take advantage of open educational resources -- or OERs.

OERs are high-quality teaching, learning and research materials -- such as textbooks, lab books, videos and course modules -- that are free for students and faculty to use and repurpose. The new Miller Open Education Mini-Grants Program is open to instructors (faculty, graduate student teaching assistants, etc.) in all disciplines who want to incorporate these materials in their courses.

CELT associate director Holly Bender said the grants are designed to encourage instructor innovation in assigning new, less expensive materials to students and ultimately, lower the cost of attendance.

"Open-source textbook and other materials aren't appropriate in every case, but even a modest adoption could save most students $100 or more each year," Bender said.

Abbey Elder, a university librarian specializing in OER adoption, said many faculty already are using OERs in their courses. A few examples:

  • Cliff Bergman, math, adopted an open-source textbook for his course; the text is free online or available in print for a nominal price
  • Kathy Hilliard, history, uses a free, online and collaboratively built American history textbook
  • Steve Kawaler, physics and astronomy, adopted OpenStax -- which offers open textbooks in major introductory topics
  • Kelly Reddy-Best, apparel, events and hospitality management, creates YouTube videos to demonstrate methods, as an alternative to textbooks
  • Graduate student Chase Mayers uses an open-source mycology textbook for a course he co-teaches with Leonor Leandro in plant pathology and microbiology

A number of groups on campus are collaborating on this issue, including Student Government, Faculty Senate and the ISU Book Store. Iowa State also is in the process of joining the Open Textbook Network, which provides access to textbooks on a wide variety of topics as well as reviews from faculty who have used the books in their courses.

Learn more

To assist those interested in applying for a grant, the library and CELT are hosting a workshop, Miller Open Education Mini-Grants Q&A, on Monday, March 5 (12:10-1 p.m., 2030 Morrill). Participants should register via Learn@ISU.

For more information about the mini-grant program, contact Bender or Elder.