By Corinne Guimont, Anita Walz and Beth Bernhardt
Virginia Tech and UNC Greensboro are two of nine founding members of the Open Textbook Network Publishing Cooperative, a pilot program launched by the Open Textbook Network (OTN) in 2017. The goal of the Cooperative is to create a network of higher education institutions committed to publishing new, openly licensed textbooks.
The pilot will last for a period of three years. During that time, each member institution will build expertise by training a designated project manager who can then establish publishing workflow and processes tailored to the particular needs of that institution. After the training is complete, each project manager will have the tools necessary to oversee a minimum of two new open textbooks as they move from conception to publication. At the completion of the three-year period, the nine members of the Publishing Cooperative will have collectively published at least two dozen new, freely available textbooks with Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licenses.
Virginia Tech’s goal in participating in this pilot is to build our publishing capacity and expertise specifically in the area of Open Educational Resources (OER) as part of our broader library publishing program, VT Publishing. We joined the Co-Op because of the opportunities for learning, collaboration, and professional development within a cohort of other institutions. VT Libraries is prepared to invest up to $22,000 into the program over the next three years, in addition to staff time. Funds will pay for author stipends, peer reviewer honoraria, and to supplement in-house technical and publishing expertise. We hope to create and share many more open textbooks with the world.
For Virginia Tech the program will expand its Open Education Faculty Initiative Grant program, started in 2016, which provides technical assistance and grants for creation or adaptation, public dissemination, and classroom use of openly licensed resources of various kinds. Previous open textbooks published from this program include Fundamentals of Business (2016) by Stephen J. Skripak and a newly released Beta Version of Electromagnetics (2018) by Steven W. Ellingson which is being field tested and will be revised and released with its LaTeX source code in Summer 2018.
[see cover credits below]
[see cover credits below]
In addition to Fundamentals of Business’ over 80,000 worldwide downloads, these books along with other open educational resources adopted by faculty at Virginia Tech have saved 3,000+ Virginia Tech students more than $785,000 in course material costs in 18 months.
UNC Greensboro decided to join the Cooperative to provide faculty members the opportunity to create an open textbook for their courses. Martin Halbert, Dean of University Libraries, when asked why UNC Greensboro joined the cooperative stated, “This is a critically important time for the transformation of scholarly communication, and new models for the production of openly accessible educational resources are central to successfully establishing a sustainable new ecology of higher education learning.” The Office of the Provost and the University Libraries have committed $10,000 and staffing towards the project. The funds will be given as two $5000 stipends to faculty that receive funding. The funds will be distributed in two parts, $2500 at the beginning and $2500 when the open textbook is complete. Staff have been attending a 9 week training from the OTN on publishing platforms. UNC Greensboro will send out a call for proposals for the two grants in March 2018 and announce the winners by the beginning of May 2018. The University Libraries will provide the faculty with training on software to help create these textbooks.
Founding members of the OTN Publishing Cooperative include: Miami University, Penn State University, Portland State University, Southern Utah University, University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Virginia Tech, and West Hills Community College District (CA).
About the Open Textbook Network: The Open Textbook Network (OTN) is a community working to improve education through open education, with members representing over 600 higher education institutions. OTN institutions have saved students more than $8.5 million by implementing open education programs, and empowered faculty with the flexibility to customize course content to meet students’ learning needs.
Cover credit for Electromagnetics, Vol 1 Beta: Robert Browder
Cover image attribution: (c) Michelle Yost. Total Internal Reflection is licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license (cropped by Robert Browder)
Cover credit for Fundamentals of Business: Trevor Finney
Cover image attributions: “Hong Kong Skyscrapers” by Estial, cropped and modified by Trevor Finney CC BY-SA 4.0; “Paris vue d’ensemble tour Eiffel” by Taxiarchos228, cropped and modified by Poke2001 and Trevor Finney CC BY 3.0; “London Bridge” by Skitterphoto, cropped and modified by Trevor Finney, Public Domain; “New York” by Mscamilaalmeida, cropped and modified by Trevor Finney, Public Domain.