Libraries, Global Campus, Student Success Center Launch Cost-Reducing Initiative

Libraries, Global Campus, Student Success Center Launch Cost-Reducing Initiative
graphic design by Ariel Romero

A new initiative by the Student Success Center and Open Educational Resources Team aims to reduce the cost of attendance for first- and second-year University of Arkansas students by helping faculty make the switch from traditional textbooks to Open Educational Resources in general education courses.  

The Student Success Center will provide funding for the initiative. Elaine Thornton, open education and distance learning librarian, and Scott Wright, instructional designer for the Global Campus, will work with teams of 3-4 faculty to convert general education course materials from expensive traditionally published textbooks to free Open Educational Resources. 

"We are thrilled to be partnering with the Open Educational Resources Team and the Global Campus on this wonderful initiative. Providing first-rate textbooks and resources at no cost to students is truly significant work," said Trevor Francis, associate vice provost and director for student success. "We hope our partnership will inspire more faculty to create and adopt OERs for their courses."    

Three sociology instructors will be the first participants. Valerie Robertson, Rodica Lisnic and Robert Mortensen will convert the materials for SOCI 2033: Social Problems to Open Educational Resources. They will align and update the selected open textbook, Social Problems:  Continuity and Change, with course objectives, select and create ancillary and supplementary resources, plan course outlines, create assessments and identify relevant Libraries resources, such as streaming media and articles. 

"The Open Educational Resources Team is delighted to partner with the Student Success Center and the Sociology department to launch this new initiative," said Thornton. "Increasing OER adoption in general education courses will have a significant impact on the college affordability for first year students."   

The initiative is similar to the History department's No Cost Textbook Project of 2020, during which six instructors worked together to create course plans that featured openly licensed history textbooks and Libraries resources for use in the two U.S. history survey courses. As a result of their work, 17sections of HIST 2003 and 2013 were offered with no additional textbook costs for students. 

Departments interested in learning more about participating in the program can contact the Open Educational Resources Team. As of Fall 2021, more than 25 different U of A courses have adopted Open Educational Resources and other no-cost resources. To learn about other OER initiatives, visit the OER Website


Elaine Thornton, open education and distance learning librarian
University Libraries

Kelsey Lovewell Lippard, director of public relations
University Libraries


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