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K-State Today

April 16, 2013



K-State faculty invited to develop open or alternative textbooks

By Donna Ekart

The K-State Student Governing Association and K-State Libraries are announcing the Open/Alternative Textbook Initiative for Kansas State University. Recently funded through Student Centered Tuition Enhancements with a supplemental allocation provided by K-State Libraries, the initiative offers awards to K-State faculty working individually or collaboratively to deliver open or alternative textbooks in their courses. $60,000 is available for multiple awards of $1,000-$5,000 each.

The application period for the inaugural round of awards is open through at 5 p.m. May 6. Proposal requirements, submission and selection criteria, and examples of open texts already in use are available from the K-State Libraries website. Awards are expected to be announced by May 17 for the 2013-2014 school year.

The project is open to either individual K-State faculty members or a group of faculty teaching multiple sections of the same course.

“We are hopeful that this initiative will demonstrate that achieving savings for students on course materials doesn’t come at the cost of the learning process,” said Beth Turtle, department head for scholarly communications and publishing at K-State Libraries. “In fact, we believe that in many cases, alternative or open materials may actually be of higher quality than traditional print textbooks. We also want to commend student government for having the vision to fund this innovative project that could improve the financial situation of K-State students for years to come.”

The high cost of commercial print textbooks is a major concern for both students and their families. This initiative encourages faculty innovation and experimentation in finding new, better and less costly ways to deliver learning materials to students. Successful proposals may involve using a range of resources across different media or employing an existing open access textbook to create a set of learning resources which eliminate traditional textbook costs. There is no expectation that faculty will author complete open textbooks, although that would certainly qualify as an acceptable project.

Co-authors of the initiative proposal, Andy Bennett, professor of mathematics, and Brian Lindshield, assistant professor in the department of human nutrition, have successfully created and used open textbooks in their classes. They, along with K-State Libraries faculty, believe it is important to provide incentives to experiment with non-traditional learning resources.

Questions about the initiative may be directed to Turtle, Bennett or Lindshield.