Getting to Today
In 2015, an effort to promote the use of Open Textbooks at UConn was begun by students in the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and UConn Public Interest Research Group (UConn PIRG). Those students, along with administrators, academic staff, faculty, and librarians formed a Task Force to further explore Affordable Textbooks. As a result of strong advocacy, awareness building, and efforts by State Representative Gregg Haddad and Senator Mae Flexer, the State Legislature passed Special Act No. 15-18, An Act Concerning the Use of Digital Open-SourceTextbooks in Higher Education(House Bill 6117). In addition, the University Senate passed a resolution put forth by the Senate Student Welfare Committee in support of the Open Textbook Initiative.
The Task Force, with the help of Chris Petkovich, Senior Director of Foundation Relations at the UConn Foundation, applied for and received an 18 month grant titled, "Efficiencis in Connecticut Higher Education through Open Educational Resources." UConn Today's Kenneth Best reported in February, 2016, "UConn Leading State’s Open Textbook Initiative"
"At UConn, a committee of faculty, students, and administrative staff has secured a grant of nearly $100,000 from the Davis Educational Foundation to introduce open textbooks on campus. The University Libraries will lead the effort to survey faculty about the use of open textbooks, create online workshops for faculty development, and adapt an existing general chemistry textbook."
Since this meager beginning, the OER initiative on campus has impacted several thousand students through the adoption of open textbooks and course redesigns to increase affordability. Dr. Edward Neth revised the OpenStax Chemistry textbook to the new title Atoms First Chemistry. Both OpenStax Chemistry books have since been used by more than 2000 students saving them over $200,000. Several faculty have redesigned their courses to make the materials either no cost or very low cost. In September of 2016, the Provost added $100,000 in award money for faculty who teach large classes to adopt, adapt, or create open textbooks and the UConn Co-op, former independent bookstore at the university, gifted the UConn Library's OER Initiative with $300,000 for future development of open on campus. We have awarded grants to about 15 faculty for adoptions, adaptations, and creation of new textbooks which will be shared with the world when they are completed.
Martha Bedard, Vice Provost for University Libraries, Chair of UConn Affordable Textbook Committee, and representative to the CT state task force on open textbooks; Kathleen Labadorf, Undergraduate Services Librarian, Chair of UConn Libraries Open Educational Resources Committee; Edward J. Neth, Lecturer, Chemistry and author of proposed UConn Open Atoms First Chemistry textbook; Daniel Byrd, Student, USG Senator and Chair of the External Affairs Committee, and representative to the CT state task force on open textbooks; Venkatram Gopal, student, USG Academic Affairs officer; and Saman Azimi, student representative to UConn PIRG.
Task Force Members
Martha Bedard, Chair, Vice Provost for University Libraries
Jc Beall, Faculty, Philosophy
Aynsley Diamond, Director of Faculty Development Programs, CETL
Kate Fuller, Head of Head of Learning & Curriculum Services, Library
Katrina Higgins, University Director of Advising
Kathy Labadorf, Information Literacy and Open Educational Resources Librarian
Carolyn Mills, Biology, Agriculture, & Natural Resources Librarian
David Ruiz, ITS, Library