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.
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