Open textbooks, grant program at FHSU will help students save money on textbooks

HAYS, Kan. - The first of several open textbook projects funded by the Open Textbook Grant Program at Fort Hays State University will be implemented in classrooms this semester, saving students from the rising cost of textbooks.

Forsyth Library and the Open Education Resources Committee are awarding faculty grants to create, adapt or add supplementary materials to openly licensed textbooks through the grant program. The library received funding through the FHSU Foundation from donors Robert and Delores Fischli to start the grant program and began accepting faculty proposals in spring 2016.

"Textbook costs have risen substantially for our students over the last decade," said Deborah Ludwig, library dean, "and we appreciate the Fischlis' generous donation to help us make college costs more affordable."

"The program aims to reduce college costs for students, showcase the work of faculty at FHSU and contribute to worldwide availability of open educational resources," said Claire Nickerson, learning initiatives and OER librarian at Forsyth.

Dr. David Schmidt, assistant professor of informatics, created supplemental materials for an open textbook for his Informatics 101 course, saving students an estimated $36,000 this year. Schmidt created chapter summaries and supplemental materials for the chapters that are useful for his course, which can be found at Schmidt's project also included an assignment and grading rubric for each chapter.

Open textbooks and open educational resources (OERs) are an alternative, no-cost option to traditional textbooks. They are free to access and have an open license, allowing users to retain copies and redistribute them as needed. Depending on the terms of the open license, users may also be allowed to reuse the content in a different format, revise the content or remix portions of the content to create a new work.

"The open licensing allows students and faculty the freedom to make improvements to the textbooks without publishing a new edition," said Nickerson. "Faculty can also customize open textbooks to the course, ensuring that it is relevant to students."

The benefits for faculty include the grant funding to create or adapt the open textbook, opportunities for author collaborations, and the ability to apply an open style of teaching to allow students to contribute and give feedback about the resources used in class. All grant-funded materials will be made available through FHSU Scholars Repository, which helps increase the visibility of the adaptor or author and provides metrics for the work. Applications for grants will be accepted on a rolling basis.

"The program is off to a good start, and I hope that we will have more applicants as open educational resources gain visibility on campus, especially now that we are moving to a rolling basis for applications," said Nickerson.

Dr. Elodie Jones, assistant professor of advanced education programs, Dr. Mark Pahls, instructor of health and human performance, and Dr. Janet Stramel, associate professor of teacher education, are also in the process of creating, adapting, or adding supplementary materials from open textbooks for their courses through the grant.

Faculty who have additional questions or are interested in creating, adapting, or adding supplementary materials to an open textbook can contact Nickerson at

To learn more about open educational resources, visit

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