The UNO Libraries are pleased to announce the first cohort of our Textbook Mavericks initiative. The Fall 2020 honorees are Steffi Jesseau, Ph.D., Instructor of Psychology; and Zac Suriano, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Geography.
The Textbook Mavericks initiative spotlights UNO faculty, staff, students, and donors who take significant actions to advocate for textbook affordability. Textbook Mavericks are identified among those who have adapted, adopted, created, or championed open educational resources (OER) and other low-cost materials for use in classrooms at UNO.
In 2019, Steffi Jesseau was awarded an Affordable Content Grant from the Libraries to transition her Psychology 1010 courses from traditional materials to affordable content. As part of that grant, Dr. Jesseau combined two existing Psychology OERs with her own material to create a new OER that was perfectly suited to her courses. This effort has saved UNO students over $85,000 in the first year alone, and we are thrilled to be able to acknowledge her efforts.
“I think imagining the scope of student savings can be something most people don’t think about,” Jesseau said. “This fall, I have approximately 550 students currently signed up for my Introductory Psychology class. If all those students bought the text I was previously using for $189, that adds up. I realize most folks don’t have as many students as I do, and not all students would buy the text, but even with more modest class sizes, the savings can be substantial, especially over time.”
Zac Suriano, also a recipient of an Affordable Content Grant in 2019, transitioned his Human Environment Geography lab sections from traditional materials to affordable content by writing an entirely new lab manual with situations that are perfectly suited to his UNO students. By making this change, Dr. Suriano has eliminated the lab manual cost for his student and improved student learning. He is also working with the Libraries to openly publish his lab manual and make it available for others across the country.
“Students have provided overwhelmingly positive feedback on the OER used to date,” Suriano reports. “Resources have been described as ‘engaging,’ ‘applicable,’ ‘well organized,’ and ‘actually kinda fun.’” When discussing the shift to OER, Suriano points out the key role students play in the process. “The thought of saving students money is nice, and something most [faculty] are generally amenable to if the opportunity presents itself. However, it wasn’t until my students voiced their concerns and criticisms of the previously used course materials that I actually made the switch to OER.”
Through the Affordable Content Grant program, which was launched in Spring 2019, UNO Libraries have supported 35 faculty members who have saved UNO students over $300,000 to date with more courses being converted to OER and affordable content every semester. The Office of Digital Learning also supports OER efforts with their Online Course Development Grants which have saved students an additional $100,000 and counting.
The Textbook Mavericks initiative is an ongoing effort, with new champions to be added each year.
“As advocates of the open access movement, the UNO Libraries are proud to continue to recognize the vital work of UNO faculty, staff, students, and donors through the Textbook Mavericks initiative,” said David Richards, dean of library services. “Due to the economic consequences of COVID, creating openly accessible and low-cost resources is even more important to the success of students at UNO.”
To nominate yourself or a member of the UNO community, contact Tonya Ferrell, OER Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about including events and announcements in the Criss Library News Center, email us at email@example.com.
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