GCSW Faculty Support Student Success Via ATIP
Ginger Lucas, LMSW, clinical associate professor and director of online and hybrid programs at University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW), is part of the cohort of UH faculty promoting student success by facilitating free and immediate access to course materials. Lucas, in collaboration with additional instructors, received an award from the UH Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP) to create open educational resources (OER) for SOCW 6306: Social Work Practice Skills and SOCW 6308: Human Diversity and Development.
Now in its fifth award cycle, ATIP has improved access to affordable education for over 11,000 UH students by supporting faculty who adopt, modify, or create OER to replace a commercial textbook in their courses. This includes the adoption of existing no-cost resources; modification/adaptation of existing OER; or creation of OER, particularly open learning materials such as lecture slides, test banks, quizzes, lesson plans, or videos.
Since its launch in 2018, ATIP has helped achieve approximately $1.4 million in textbook cost savings.
The process for adopting the alternative textbook for Human Diversity and Development was “reasonably easy,” said Lucas. “I found a current, open-access textbook that I knew could be the backbone of the course. I knew I would want to supplement that textbook with other open-access resources to provide diverse approaches to the material.”
The alternative textbook for SOCW 6306, a course for which Lucas and Shelley Gonzalez, assistant director of field education and assistant clinical faculty, were awarded an ATIP incentive, was adopted beginning in 2020 and has benefited 172 students, with estimated savings of $30,091 in one year. For the Human Diversity and Development OER, implemented in 2022, 144 students have been impacted with estimated savings of $28,792 in one year.
Cost reduction is just one of the many benefits students enjoy with the implementation of OER. Students’ assessment of the utility and quality of alternative textbooks in social work courses are positive. They are reporting a wider range of voices and high relevance to current practice in OER material, with greater accessibility and ease of use over traditional textbooks. OER tend to remain applicable even after the course is completed. “Students can take with them and reference [OER] once they are practicing social workers,” Lucas noted. “They appreciate materials that are accessible on the go. I integrated videos and podcasts that they could listen to during their commute.”
Lucas cites several reasons for choosing to adopt an alternative textbook, not the least of which is removing financial barriers to academic success. “Integrating a variety of open-access learning materials such as videos, journal articles, and textbooks increases the accessibility of the course content, and allows us to be creative in the sources we choose to teach the content to different learning styles,” she said. “It helps our curriculum stay current, addressing the most recent trends in social work practice. In addition, incorporating OER allow us to provide diverse perspectives, encouraging critical thinking.”
While selecting and evaluating material took time, Lucas found support from colleagues. “Once you begin looking for alternatives to textbooks, you will find many resources, and it helps to collaborate with other faculty to make final decisions,” she said.
For instructors who are considering OER, Lucas encourages them to reach out to the UH Libraries department of Open Education Services. “The librarians, especially Ariana Santiago, are so helpful and always available to answer questions and provide support when integrating new course materials,” Lucas said.
“I’m pleased that UH Libraries has been able to support instructors in adopting OER to remove the cost of textbooks for multiple social work courses,” said Santiago, head of Open Education Services. “It’s great to see GCSW faculty leveraging ATIP to make a positive impact on student success.”
Celebrate Open Education Week
March 6 – 10 marks the annual celebration of Open Education Week (OE Week), an opportunity for actively sharing and learning about the latest achievements in open education worldwide. OE Week was launched in 2012 by Open Education Global, a collaborative forum that exists to increase quality, accessibility, and affordability of education.
Here are some ways University of Houston faculty can learn more about open education:
- Apply for the Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP). This program offered by UH Libraries awards instructors who replace a commercial textbook with a no-cost or low-cost alternative textbook, which may include adopting open educational resources (OER), library resources, or other freely-available resources. Applications are due March 24.
- Attend OE Week events from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Division of Digital Learning. These sessions will highlight new services and initiatives including the OER Nursing Essentials (O.N.E.) Project in partnership with OpenStax, the Texas Student Success Program Inventory, and the Texas OER Playbook.
- Explore the UH Pressbooks catalog to view new OER titles from UH faculty and students. UH Libraries offers access to Pressbooks, an online book publishing platform for the creation of OER. Pressbooks regularly introduces new updates and features that improve the appearance and accessibility of the web books on its platform. Visit the Open Educational Resources Guide to learn more about how to publish with Pressbooks.
To learn more about how you can get involved, contact the UH Libraries department of Open Education Services by emailing email@example.com.
This post was contributed by Kate McNally Carter (‘11), open educational resources librarian.
Call for Applications: Alternative Textbook Incentive Program
University of Houston Libraries is now accepting applications for the UH Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP). The incentive program awards UH instructors who adopt, modify, or create open educational resources (OER), or who adopt no-cost or low-cost alternative resources, to replace a commercial textbook in their courses. This initiative aligns with the university’s strategic goal of providing a top tier, inclusive educational experience to all UH students. By removing high costs associated with traditional textbooks, this program helps UH instructors make educational programs more financially accessible for all students.
The deadline for ATIP applications is Friday, March 24, 2023. Instructors are encouraged to apply by March 3 to receive feedback and the opportunity to revise and resubmit their application if desired. Awards of between $1,000 and $5,000 will be made based on the estimated cost savings for students, projected number of students impacted, type of alternative textbook proposed, and overall feasibility of the proposal.
Open educational resources (OER) offer an alternative to the problem of expensive textbooks for students. Students at Texas post-secondary institutions spend an average of $1,247 annually on books and supplies. A 2021 report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund found that 65% of college students skip buying textbooks due to the cost despite concerns that this will negatively impact their grades. By shifting to freely accessible and openly licensed teaching and learning tools, including textbooks, more students will have access to course materials, allowing them to be prepared for class on the first day, stay enrolled in the course, and perform better on course assignments. Further, according to the OER in Texas Higher Education report, OER usage has also been associated with benefits to teaching and learning by supporting open pedagogical practices and encouraging localization of materials to meet learner needs.
UH faculty are encouraged to attend an upcoming information session to learn about the incentive program and the benefits of alternative textbooks. Faculty may also make an appointment with the department of Open Education Services to discuss implementing open textbooks in the classroom and the support provided through the incentive program.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Announcing 2022 Alternative Textbook Award Winners
University of Houston Libraries, supported by the UH Office of the Provost, is pleased to announce the 2022 recipient cohort of the Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP).
UH instructors applied for an award ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 that would go toward implementation of an open or alternative textbook in a future course. This program incentivizes faculty members to replace required traditional textbook(s) and other high-cost learning materials in their courses with adoption, adaptation, or creation of open educational resources (OER), or assembly of freely available or library-sponsored resources.
Awards were granted based on the number of students impacted, projected cost savings for students, the type of project proposed, and the timeline and feasibility of successful implementation.
2022 ATIP winners are:
Graduate College of Social Work
- Chiara Acquati, Aabha Brown, and Virginia Lucas – SOCW 6305: Research and Knowledge Building in Social Work Practice
- Virginia Lucas – SOCW 6308: Human Diversity and Development
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
- Olusegun Babalola – PSYC 2305: Introduction to Methods in Psychology
- Anadeli Bencomo – SPAN 3374: Spanish American Culture and Civilization
- Viola Green, Raymond Gwanwo Hounfodji, Julie Tolliver, and Céline Wilson – FREN 1501: Elementary French I and FREN 1502: Elementary French II
- Viola Green, Raymond Gwanwo Hounfodji, Julie Tolliver, and Céline Wilson – FREN 2311: Intermediate French I and FREN 2312: Intermediate French II
- Jose Angel Hernandez – HIST 2303: Historian’s Craft
- Jose Angel Hernandez – HIST 4336: History of Histories: Historiography Capstone Seminar
- Melody Yunzi Li – CHIN/WCL 3342: Tales of East Asian Cities
C.T. Bauer College of Business
- Barbara Carlin and Marina Sebastijanovic – MANA 3335: Introduction to Organizational Behavior and Management
Conrad H. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership
- Simone Doudna – HRMA 4397: Airline Services Management
- Jason Draper – HRMA 2365: Tourism
- Sadegh Kazemi – HRMA 3348: Principles of Hospitality Revenue Management
- Cristian Morosan – HRMA 1301: Hospitality Technology
- Minjung Shin – HRMA 6330: Statistical Data Analysis in the Hospitality Industry
Cullen College of Engineering
- Stacey M. Louie – CIVE 6373: Experimental Methods in Environmental Engineering
College of Education
- Saira Rab – HDFS 4315: Culture and Diversity in Human Development
- Sissy Wong – CUIN 4325/7366: Teaching Science in Grades 4-8 I and CUIN 4326/7367: Teaching Science in Grades 4-8 II
This is the fourth round of awards for ATIP, which is part of the University’s mission to provide an inclusive, accessible educational experience for UH students. The initiative to mitigate the high cost of textbooks for students was championed by Paula Myrick Short, the former senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, who led the UH initiative to join the Open Textbook Network (renamed Open Education Network) in 2017. Since then, more UH faculty have been empowered through ATIP to reduce the financial burden of UH students.
Six of this year’s awarded projects were for adopting OER or library materials, one is for authoring OER, and eleven involve a combination of adopting, adapting, and/or authoring open resources. Projected savings for students in the first year of implementing alternative textbooks in these courses is $631,655, benefiting an estimated 4,873 students.
Learn more about open educational resources at UH.
“It’s highly rewarding to see the benefit of free and immediate access to course materials realized for so many UH students,” said Athena N. Jackson, dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair. “We’re committed to student success through the development of open educational resources via ATIP, and we’re pleased to continue partnering with faculty to improve the learning experience for students.”
Thanks to the members of the ATIP Review Committee: Emese Felvegi, Jaspal Subhlok, Shawn Vaillancourt, Elizabeth Irvin-Stravoski, and Ariana Santiago.
Connecting Undergrads to Humanities Research
University of Houston Libraries projects in digital humanities are being offered through Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH), a year-long introductory research experience for undergraduates in humanities disciplines.
The UH REACH program is supported by the Cougar Initiative to Engage and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards (OURMA). REACH connects students to existing UH digital humanities projects and allows them to develop research skills through mentored, first-hand scholarly inquiry and through participation in OURMA research programming.
REACH participants receive a $1,500 scholarship split between the fall and spring semesters in the program, and will present their research at Undergraduate Research Day in April 2023.
Projects significantly connected to UH Libraries’ collections and expertise include Making the History of UH Student Group Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL) Available Online, Sharing Stories from 1977, OER Textbook: Be a Tech Advanced Cultural Learner, Triumph and Tragedy in the Bayou City’s Civil Rights Era, Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program, and SYRIOS.
Two projects from the 2021-2022 academic year included research drawing from UH Libraries’ collections related to the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and DJ Screw sound recordings.
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are invited to apply by September 7.
New Open Educational Resources Librarian
University of Houston Libraries welcomes Kate McNally Carter as the new open educational resources (OER) librarian.
Please describe your role at UH Libraries and discuss some of your professional goals.
I will be working under the direction of the OER coordinator, Ariana Santiago, to support instructors in the adoption, adaptation, and creation of OER in order to meet teaching and learning needs and advance the University’s student success goals. I will support and contribute to the planning, implementation, and assessment of OER program activities, including the Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP).
As the OER program continues to expand at UH, we are hoping to use a targeted approach to identify high-impact courses for OER adoption, continue to increase awareness of OER usage and its impact at UH, and increase transparency for students around which courses use OER. I am excited to join a university that has demonstrated investment in its core value of student success, and in my role I hope to further highlight the amazing work already being done by our faculty and support the continued growth of the OER program in order to help meet the University’s strategic goals.
Please share a bit about your background and interests. How do these inspire and shape your approach as a librarian?
Most recently, I worked as a research and instruction librarian at UH-Clear Lake; before entering the library field, I worked at San Jacinto College North Campus as an administrative assistant for the provost. I also have some experience working as a contractor for a textbook publisher. My experience in all of these roles has galvanized my passion for supporting equitable educational experiences and resources for students. I have witnessed and experienced firsthand the impact that financial insecurity has on student learning and engagement; one way to alleviate that burden is to reduce prohibitive textbook costs that can impede students at every stage of their educational careers.
OER are particularly powerful tools to address the high costs of higher education for a number of reasons. OER enable students to have immediate access to learning materials right from the beginning of their courses, and research has demonstrated that students with first-day access to course materials are more likely to achieve successful outcomes. In addition, OER also provide instructors academic freedom and autonomy to customize their materials in closer alignment with the course’s learning objectives. If course materials are openly licensed, instructors can easily adapt materials to fit their needs accordingly; this enables instructors to design their courses with intentionality while also centering student learning.
What are one or two ideas you’d like the community to know about OER?
In general, one misconception that we often hear is that OER are simply “free textbooks.” While this may be true in some cases, it’s important to contextualize this. First, OER are not just “free” or without cost; more importantly, OER are openly licensed learning materials. These open licenses allow users the automatic rights to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the material, depending on the specific license applied to the work; this enables students and faculty to engage with the material in transformative and creative ways that are otherwise prohibited when using copyrighted materials. It’s also important to emphasize that OER come in a variety of resource types and formats, including lesson plans, instructional videos, tutorials, course modules, worksheets, activities, presentations, and more—it’s not just textbooks!
While there is a vast plethora of OER available for a variety of different courses and subjects, there are not always OER available to meet every instructional need. However, use of OER doesn’t necessarily need to take an all-or-nothing approach; in these cases, the library can assist with identifying library-licensed materials or other low-cost copyrighted materials that could serve as potential alternatives.
As OER usage becomes more prevalent in higher education, I think it is going to become even more important for us to consider the accessibility of resources and the representation of diverse populations in our learning materials. In the library, we have an opportunity to provide expertise in designing OER that meet accessibility guidelines for students with disabilities. We also need to advocate for OER that are representative of the student populations we serve; that means we need to ensure that instructors include diverse voices in their instructional materials, and if possible allow students to contribute their own lived experiences to the learning objectives. This gives our students agency, and ultimately empowers them to recognize the value they bring to the classroom, enriching everyone’s learning experience in the process. Systemic change is needed to break down systems of oppression in higher education that stifle creativity and innovation, and I’m excited for the role that OER can play in opening pedagogical practices and resources for students of all backgrounds and abilities.
Call for Applications: OER Creation Program
University of Houston Libraries is accepting applications for the OER Creation Program, a new initiative that advances the use of open educational resources (OER) to make higher education more affordable and accessible for UH students.
The OER Creation Program provides professional development and financial support for faculty to create high-quality OER that will be used as required course material in a UH course or program and that fills a gap in existing OER content. Materials should be free to access, share, and customize.
Applications must consist of two to four project team members. Selected teams will receive a stipend ranging from $5,000 to $10,000, participate in the Textbook Success Program (TSP), a year-long professional development program facilitated by the Rebus Community, and publish their completed OER on Pressbooks and in the UH Cougar ROAR repository.
TSP is a professional development program that equips faculty, librarians, administrators, and managers with the tools they need to make great OER. The program is one year long and comprises two phases:
- Phase 1: 12 weekly themed sessions with a cohort to give faculty an overview of the open publishing process
- Phase 2: Hands-on stage where the team works on OER projects, with a mix of group check-ins with the cohort and 1:1 support sessions with a facilitator
Participants will join a group made up of project teams from UH and potentially teams from other institutions. The TSP is facilitated by OER publishing professionals and program alumni, and is built with community, collaboration, and engagement in mind.
The deadline for proposals is April 8, 2022. Interested applicants are encouraged to attend an upcoming information session to learn about the OER Creation Program. Ariana Santiago, open educational resources coordinator, is available by appointment to discuss implementing open textbooks in the classroom and the support provided through the program.
Open Course Materials in Cougar ROAR
A new community in Cougar Research Open Access Repositories (ROAR) allows University of Houston faculty to deposit and share open educational resources (OER).
Open Course Materials gathers openly licensed course materials generated by instructors at UH and creates long-term access to those materials for UH students, including archived resources that would otherwise only be available in Blackboard, the application for online learning.
The UH Institutional Repository, or Cougar ROAR, provides open online access to the research and scholarship produced at the University. By aggregating content reflecting the scholarly, educational, and administrative output of UH from faculty, students, staff, and campus units, the repository preserves and provides global access to the legacy of UH research and scholarly communication.
OER at UH is a student success initiative sponsored by the Office of the Provost that promotes the creation of teaching and learning resources in the public domain or licensed in such a way that anyone may freely use and re-purpose them. OER refer to any tools or materials used to support learning, including full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, lesson plans, streaming videos, tests, and other digital resources. UH instructors directly support student success by implementing an open or alternative textbook in their courses, with the purpose of eliminating textbook costs and ensuring UH students have free and immediate access to course materials.
“Cougar ROAR is a great resource for anyone who is developing a new course or enhancing or updating an existing course,” said Arlene Ramirez, instructional assistant professor in the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. “Being able to review materials others have found successful in the classroom is beneficial in the design process. More time can be spent on the methodologies that may be used to teach the materials and less time on developing artifacts to solidifying comprehension of the content. Another consideration is that the material on Cougar ROAR provides a different perspective on a topic, and this is especially helpful when one is immersed in developing a course or material. Using open resource materials also allows for expanding materials found on Cougar ROAR or using only specific portions. The flexibility is a great benefit.”
Instructors who are new to teaching will find Cougar ROAR to be a valuable tool in learning how to develop accessible course material. Sharing knowledge is a large part of what makes Cougar ROAR beneficial for faculty.
“The adage ‘sharing is caring’ is true when considering Cougar ROAR,” Ramirez said. “Developing material that can help others in their courses, or using contributions from others that can help in my courses, reflects how much the University cares about providing the best resources to faculty and the best education to our students. Faculty are proud of what they develop to help our students achieve success and sharing that is a way to not only give back but to also help in the professional development of faculty.”
Instructors are encouraged to explore options for creating OER and for making those resources widely available online. UH faculty who have created OER and want to make it accessible in the Open Course Materials community in Cougar ROAR may contact Ariana Santiago, open educational resources coordinator at UH Libraries, to get started. Requests will be processed in the order in which they are received.
$75K Gift to Support Open Educational Resources
University of Houston Libraries has received a gift of $75,000 from the John P. McGovern Foundation, designated for open educational resources (OER).
OER are teaching and learning tools, either in the public domain or released with an open license, that anyone can freely use and re-purpose. OER at UH began in 2017 in response to advocacy from the Student Government Association regarding textbook affordability concerns. Commercial textbook costs have risen dramatically over the past few decades, with both financial and academic impact on many UH students. While expensive textbooks prevent students from accessing course materials, OER provide free and immediate access to course materials, allowing students to be prepared on the first day of class, earn better grades, and stay enrolled in the course.
Dr. Paula Myrick Short, UH senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, introduced the UH Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP). In partnership with the Office of the Provost, UH Libraries implemented ATIP, which awards instructors who adopt OER in their courses, replacing commercial textbooks with OER and/or the use of freely available or library-owned resources. Since 2018, ATIP has provided three rounds of funding for faculty who have adopted alternative textbooks, benefitting a total of 10,171 students and saving an estimated $1,183,564 in student textbook fees.
Additionally, instructors are afforded flexibility and customization through OER to produce course content that is appropriate, updated and diverse. Faculty have reported improvements in student preparation, engagement, and learning outcomes in connection with increased access to materials.
“I was thrilled to learn about this gift to the Libraries to support OER, an initiative I have known to be crucial for access to course materials for many of our students,” Short said. “The McGovern Foundation’s support emphasizes the ongoing achievements of this program and provides essential funding for its enduring success.”
With the McGovern gift, UH Libraries is empowered to better support faculty who take on the workload of preparing their own course materials. Ariana Santiago, open educational resources coordinator at UH Libraries, facilitates outreach and education for faculty on OER-related topics and coordinates a growing community of practice on OER. “The generous donation from the McGovern Foundation will allow UH Libraries to increase incentives for faculty who adopt OER,” Santiago said. “Providing free and immediate access to course materials makes higher education more affordable and improves the academic experience for our students.”
“This gift from the McGovern Foundation allows us to strengthen the great progress of this critical program,” said Athena Jackson, dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair. “UH Libraries remains dedicated to Provost Short’s student success initiatives which enable us to scale our efforts and ensure the broadest level of partnerships across campus.”
Call for Applications: Alternative Textbook Incentive Program
University of Houston Libraries is now accepting applications for the UH Alternative Textbook Incentive Program (ATIP). As part of the University’s initiative to help mitigate the high cost of textbooks for students, the incentive program will award UH instructors who adopt, modify, or create an open or alternative textbook in their courses.
UPDATED DEADLINE: Instructors are encouraged to apply to ATIP by October 22, 2021. Awards of between $1,000 and $5,000 will be made based on the estimated financial impact for students, projected student impact, and overall feasibility of the proposal.
Open educational resources (OER) offer an alternative to the problem of expensive textbooks for students. Studies* show that 65% of college students skip buying textbooks due to the cost. By shifting to freely accessible and openly licensed teaching and learning tools, including textbooks, more students will have access to course materials, allowing them to be prepared for class on the first day, stay enrolled in the course, and perform better on course assignments.
UH faculty are encouraged to attend an upcoming information session to learn about the incentive program and the benefits of alternative textbooks. Ariana Santiago, open educational resources coordinator, is available by appointment to discuss implementing open textbooks in the classroom and the support provided through the incentive program.
Please contact us at email@example.com for more information.
*Fixing the Broken Textbook Market: Third Edition
Textbook Broke: Textbook Affordability as a Social Justice Issue