Seven Faculty Members Selected to Participate in Paid Course Conversion Program

graphic design by Ariel Romero

Each semester, the University of Arkansas Libraries and Global Campus select U of A faculty to participate in the paid Open Educational Resources (OER) Course Conversion Program, which aims to lower the cost of textbooks for U of A students while allowing faculty to innovate and customize their course materials. Nearly 1,500 students were assigned OER course materials this year, with over $145,000 saved in textbook costs. Seven faculty members have been selected from a record number of applicants for this semester's program. 

"I commend the U of A faculty for their growing interest in OER and the dedication many have shown for making college more affordable for our students," said Elaine Thornton, open education and distance learning librarian. "Many of the faculty selected this spring will be using OER course materials right away. At a time like this, it is more important than ever to provide students with cost-effective materials they can access from anywhere."  

Jennifer Beasley, director of teacher education for the Office of Teacher Education in the College of Education and Health Professions, and Myra Haulmark, the office's director of teacher licensure, will adapt an OER for CIED 1013: Introduction to Education. This course serves 150-180 students per session, with six sections per semester. The adapted textbooks will be used by all sections and replace a $80-$99 Cengage textbook. The applicants write:   

"The project aligns with our university land-grant mission. This course is important to the field of education because it is the first time students are introduced to the profession of teaching. The University of Arkansas fulfills its land-grant mission by supporting efforts to provide educators to serve the state. By reducing one barrier, the cost of a textbook, our university may attract more students to take this course as they explore this career. Currently in Arkansas, we are experiencing a reduction in the teaching workforce. We hope that eliminating a textbook cost may encourage more students to take the course."   

Lynn Meade, instructor for the Department of Communication in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, will create an OER for COMM 2303: Advanced Public Speaking, which serves 40-100 students per semester. No suitable textbook currently exists. 

"My biggest goal is to provide a practical, easy to use, free, always available book for my Advanced Public Speaking students," said Meade. "My secondary goal is to create a book that could be used, not only in my class, but by other classes where presentations are assigned." 

Laurie Apple, associate professor of Human Environmental Sciences for the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, will create an OER for AMPD 1023: Introduction to Apparel Production, which serves 50 students per semester. The created OER will replace a $140 textbook/workbook cost for students.   

Claretha Hughes, professor of Human Resources and Workforce Development for the College of Education and Health Professions will create an OER for HRWD 5233: HRWD Employment, Legal, and Ethical Issue. This course serves about 50 students per semester. Hughes will create a book of case studies that will have applicability in a variety of courses for both undergraduate and graduate students. 

Sheila Smith, lecturer for the Department of Accounting in the Sam M. Walton College of Business, will adopt OER for the online section of ACCT 2023: Principles of Accounting II, which serves 25-50 students per semester. The materials will serve as a model for future adoption for the in-person sections of the course. The current textbook costs $125.  

Jonathan Marion, associate professor for Fulbright College's Department of Anthropology, will improve the content of the currently-used OER textbook for ANTH 1023: Intro to Cultural Anthropology. The additional resource students currently purchase at $61 will be eliminated. This course serves 30 online students per semester. 


Elaine Thornton, open education and distance learning librarian
University Libraries

Kelsey Lovewell Lippard, director of public relations
University Libraries


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