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Open Educational Resources

Grants Fund 6 OER Projects at U Wyoming

The University of Wyoming Libraries recently funded six faculty proposals to develop alternatives to traditional textbooks. Most of the projects receiving an Alt-Textbook grant will result in open educational resources (OER) that mix text with other kinds of content. All will be ready in time for fall classes.

By going with OER, students in those courses will save an estimated $24,200 each semester. The grants themselves ranged from $1,000 to $3,000. Since the launch of the OER program in fall 2017 students have saved an estimated $141,233, according to the Libraries.

Meredith Minear, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, is creating, testing and sharing the use of 3D brain models in her course, "Biological Psychology." Brain models will include virtual reality editions and 3D-printed versions. Minear also plans to develop a phone-based augmented reality app that can be integrated with 3D-printed brain slices or physical pieces cut out of foamboard using a downloadable pattern. She'll post the models, animations and open source programs into a public repository, along with written and video tutorials.

Tiger Robison, an assistant professor in the Department of Music, is producing an open textbook that features original melodies and aural drills, for his class, "Aural Theory I." Wyoming community colleges that teach the course will be able to use the textbook as well.

Simone Runyon, an assistant professor in the Department of Geology & Geophysics, is developing OER that includes 3D models of rock samples and paired scanned thin sections with descriptions of the textures, mineralogy, locality of collection and rock names. Students in "Introduction to Petrology" will be able to use the material to do homework and lab assignments and study for exams without access to original materials.

Chengyi "Charlie" Zhang, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, is making OER content that will include short answer, test, quiz and discussion questions; a test bank and in-class and homework activities; and supplementary materials such as videos, short films, presentations and readings for his course, "Construction Documents."

Corrie Knapp, an assistant professor in the Haub School of Environment & Natural Resources, is producing a series of videos featuring interviews with researchers and stakeholders, to complement other OER readings. She intends to use the materials in a "flipped" classroom format for her course, "Theory and Practice of Transdisciplinarity and Co-Production."

A sixth recipient, Kym Codallos, an associate lecturer in the Division of Social Work, is adopting an existing OER textbook, "Intercultural Learning: Critical preparation for international student travel." Codallos teaches "Immigration, Social Justice and Social Work," a study-abroad course that take students to the Texas-Mexico border where they will study institutions "that promote, support and inhibit immigration and social justice."

"With the Alt-Textbook Grant Program, [UW] Libraries not only hopes to encourage the creativity and innovation that we have seen in past applicants but also, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide an affordable and accessible alternative to a traditional textbook as students continue to rely on online resources," said Hilary Baribeau, digital scholarship librarian, in a statement. "By creating open textbooks and course materials, alt-textbook grant recipients help to meet student needs during this stressful time."

UW Libraries will award another round of grants for the next academic year; proposals for that round are due Oct. 14, 2020.

Additional information and access to existing OER is openly available on the UW Libraries website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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