Four to Receive Funding to Improve Course Materials, Lower Student Textbook Costs

Clockwise from top left: Ches Jones, Kit Kacirek, Karl Schubert and Mostafa Elsaadany
University Relations

Clockwise from top left: Ches Jones, Kit Kacirek, Karl Schubert and Mostafa Elsaadany

Four University of Arkansas faculty members were selected to receive funding to help lower the cost of textbooks for students. Their participation in the Open Educational Resources course-conversion program, a partnership between by the University Libraries and Global Campus, also allows them the opportunity to use innovative techniques in their teaching and focus on the specific learning needs of Arkansas students.   

"Open educational resources help students by breaking down barriers of affordability and accessibility, while simultaneously giving faculty the ability to customize instructional materials and control the quality of their course resources. It is a win-win for our campus that extends to the broader academic community by contributing to the development of open knowledge," said Cheryl Murphy, vice provost for distance education. "The Global Campus is proud to partner with University Libraries to support the development and adoption of OER that benefit students and faculty at the U of A and beyond."

Karl D. Schubert, research professor and director of research for Innovation and Data Science Initiatives for the College of Engineering and the Sam M. Walton College of Business, will receive $7,500 to aid in the creation of an open textbook for the first course in the university's new Data Science program, Introduction to Data Science. This textbook will benefit an initial 50 students and up to 200 students per semester as the program grows. Schubert leads a team currently involved in the development of a state-wide data science curriculum featuring standard shared educational resources. 

Ches Jones, professor of health, human performance and recreation for the College of Education and Health Professions, will receive $3,000 to aid in the adoption of an open textbook for PBHL 2663: Medical Terminology, which is taught both in person and online. He will adopt a resource created and openly licensed by Tennessee health sciences educators. All faculty who teach this course will adopt the new resource, and it is expected to save approximately 300 to 350 students $100 each per year. Mary Thompson Price, senior instructional designer at Global Campus is providing the necessary design assistance required to convert the resource into a preferred format for use in Blackboard. 

"Making college more affordable for students is one of the Libraries' top priorities," said Dennis Clark, dean of Libraries. "Through our partnership with the Global Campus in the OER Programs, as well as the Open Education Southern Symposium, we hope to increase faculty awareness that they truly have the power to ease their students' financial burden."

Two faculty members were selected to receive $1,500 each for participation in the new Affordable/Open Educational Resources Course Redesign Workshop. This pilot program will allow faculty to quickly design or redesign course curricula to utilize open resources, free materials or existing content owned by the Libraries. The Libraries has access to over 700,000 ebooks that can be explored for use in classes. Faculty will receive hands-on support from both the Libraries and Global Campus, and the workshop will provide information on OER basics, course design, inclusive design principles and open pedagogy.

Mostafa Elsaadany, teaching assistant professor of biomedical engineering for the College of Engineering, teaches BMEG 2813: Biomechanical Engineering. As no suitable published textbook is currently available for this course, Elsaadany typically provides his students with notes of his own creation. The workshop will enable him to take these notes and create open course readings for his students, along with ancillary resources and supplementary materials based on current Libraries-owned and -subscribed content.

Kit Kacirek, associate professor of adult and lifelong learning in the Department of Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders of the College of Education and Health Professions, will replace the textbook currently assigned for the master's-level course ADLL 5163: Managing Change in Adult and Lifelong Learning. The new materials will comprise existing University Libraries content and openly licensed case studies of her own creation. She will also implement new assignment models and experiment with open pedagogical approaches. 

"We had another strong pool of applicants this semester," said Elaine Thornton, open education and distance learning librarian. "All applicants were interviewed by the OER Team and some very engaged members of our OER Campus Advisory Group. We look forward to working with them on their projects for the benefit of U of A students. 


Kelsey Lovewell Lippard, director of public relations
University Libraries


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