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Celebrating our Trailblazers in Open and Affordable Education at UConn

Trailblazers are bold and caring faculty who free themselves from commercial textbooks and provide exceptional learning opportunities using alternative materials in their courses.

Affordable course materials include:

  • Faculty created new learning materials : textbooks, syllabi, videos, interactive online modules, etc.
  • Linking to course readings selected from the library's collections of online resources
  • Negotiating with the publishers for lower prices on commercial textbooks
  • Adapting or adopting resources from one of many OER Repositories around the world
  • Using Public Domain texts, data, or images for analysis and new knowledge creation

Here are our UConn Trailblazers. They have saved our students over $400,000 since our initiative's humble beginnings in Fall of 2015.
Let us know how you help students afford a UConn degree. Post your good work here to share with our community.

Dr. Jason Oliver Chang, Professor of History and Asian American Studies
Dr. Jason Oliver Chang, Professor of History and Asian American Studies.

HIST 3554: Immigrants and the Shaping of U.S. History

"I have found that students are much more active in their own education when they get to make choices about how they learn. A great way to initiate student-centered education is to get them involved in the identification, evaluation, and debate of classroom resources. Textbooks have traditionally served as a anchor or scaffolding to build courses around, but removing the textbook from my immigration history course has introduced a lot more flexibility, creativeness, and surprise. In place of the textbook I engage with digital archives to give students direct access to primary source material. Collaborative exercises and classroom discussion of research methods and social theory fill the space previously occupied by the textbook. By turning to open educational resources, students have shown great curiosity in exploring questions of race, gender, imperialism, and capitalism in the study of U.S. immigration history."

Dr. Ellen Carillo, English, Waterbury
Dr. Ellen Carillo, Department of English, UConn Waterbury.

Dr. Carillo authored A Writer’s Guide to Mindful Reading, an open-access textbook, which will be used by First Year Writing and "W" classes beginning Fall, 2017.

"Unlike most OER, which emerge from STEM disciplines, A Writer’s Guide to Mindful Reading is an innovative, quality, peer-reviewed humanities-based open textbook that will be published by the WAC Clearinghouse/University Press of Colorado. The text's innovative emphasis on critical reading in addition to writing will help students develop these abilities simultaneously. Moreover, its digital format will create unique opportunities for students to become aware of the differences between their online reading/writing practices and their print-based reading/writing practices, as well as explore ways to hone their abilities in both critically reading and writing across media. I am pleased to report that the publisher has agreed to place the book in UConn’s repository of e-books and OER."

Caner Hazar, PhD Candidate, Sociology

Caner Hazar, Doctoral Candidate in Sociology.

Race, Class and Gender (SOCI-1501)

"I believe that creating a pedagogically effective teaching approach for young adult learners through the use of low-cost and open-access resources requires a comprehensive pedagogical attention to young adults’ learning experience and needs. The materials brought to class will consist of various forms of open-access written and multimedia materials that deal with race, class and gender issues. In this part, students are going to engage with the material applying their sociological knowledge, analytical skills to situations related to the everyday social life and problems."

Dr. Nina Stein
Dr. Nina Stein, Chemistry, UConn Waterbury

Dr. Stein learned the OpenStax Connexion platform and adapted the Chemistry textbook to better match her pedagogical approach for CHEM1127.

"In addition to modifying the text by rearranging chapters, I will be rearranging sections within chapters and content within sections. I have checked out several of the on-line links (“Link to Learning”) contained within the text and am finding that some are more useful than others, so I will be editing out those that I do not believe to be very useful. I also plan to integrate the on-line homework program that I have been informed can be purchased by students for a minimal cost. When I do this, I will go through all of the problems and choose only those I feel will be relevant to my course and helpful to the students."

Dr. Ed Neth
Edward Neth, Chemistry. Photo by Mei Buzzell, UConn Daily Campus

AP Big Story: Open-source textbooks gain in push for college affordability

Michael Melia writes, "At UConn, Neth received a grant from the student government to take an open chemistry textbook developed by OpenStax, a nonprofit at Rice University, and adapt it for the teaching approach he uses. When it's completed students will be able to receive an electronic version for free or pay about $50 for a hard copy."


Jospeh DePasquale
Joseph DePasquale, Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Adopted Openstax Chemistry beginning Spring, 2016

Joe says, "The students definitely appreciate the cheaper textbook option. The online version of the textbook is free and a bound hard copy can be purchased for only $55. This is a much cheaper option, considering that many chemistry textbooks now cost over $200."

Robert Astur, UConn Waterbury
Robert Astur, Associate Professor, Psychology, UConn Waterbury

Astur used a book from OpenStax for his Introductory Psychology class this semester, linked to the full free PDF on HuskyCT, and gave students the option to purchase a hardcover from Amazon for $38.50.

Robert says, "I wanted to help students save money and still be able to obtain a quality book and education. Students have been positive."

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