Open Educational Resources

U Wisconsin Stout Gets Grant for Open Textbook Pilot

While the College Board estimated that the average amount paid for books and supplies by undergraduates in the United States exceeded $1,200 in the 2014-2015 school year, at the University of Wisconsin-Stout campus, the average amount paid was $165.36. Currently, the university manages to accomplish the savings through segregated fees that support a textbook rental system. But the university has found maintaining that level of affordability to be an on-going "challenge." So the school is undertaking a new project to embed open textbooks and other resources into courses.

The Instructional Resources Services (IRS) office, which runs that rental program, received a $14,200 grant from the U Wisconsin System specifically to start training faculty in how to work with open educational resources. The funding came from the system's Innovation Fund.

The university runs "eStout," which provides every undergraduate with a laptop. That was cited as a strength of the school in providing the infrastructure needed for a successful open educational resources (OER) pilot.

Now IRS is kicking off the "Stout Open for Learning and Value in Education" (SOLVE) program to support the teaching and learning technology environment through a pilot OER program with professional development to show faculty how to revise and mix OER content and deliver instruction that addresses specific learning outcomes. For fall 2015 a third of all courses used digital resources as primary course content.

The campus will be working with David Ernst, CIO at the University of Minnesota and creator of the Open Textbook Library. He'll be visiting Stout in December to lead an instructor workshop.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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