Textbook Heroes

KU Libraries and the Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright, in partnership with the Office of Communications & Advancement and the Open Educational Resources (OER) Working Group, are pleased to present a new initiative to acknowledge and express gratitude for advocacy and innovation in course materials affordability at the University of Kansas. Textbook Heroes are members of the KU community who've taken extraordinary initiative to increase access to and affordability of required course materials by implementing and advocating for OER and other low and no cost course materials. Launched in Spring 2019, we hope to announce a new cohort of Textbook Heroes every fall and spring semester.

The Textbook Heroes for Spring 2019 are:

Dr. Drew Vartia

Dr. Drew Vartia, assistant teaching professor, Department of Chemistry
Course(s): CHEM 150: Chemistry for Engineers
OER adopted: Chemistry: Atoms First from OpenStax
Student impact:
Adopting an OER means my students get a free, reliable, and lasting online resource. It’s not a high-cost choice between education and food, auto repair, or whatever else life throws a student’s way. It's not a shot-in-the-dark search on YouTube to find the right information. It’s not a cumbersome five pound book they discard after they become tired of moving it from apartment to apartment. It’s not a textbook subscription that runs out just before they need a refresher for a different class or a professional exam. It’s a free, reliable, and lasting online resource; there's tremendous value in that.
The no-cost and flexible textbook freed me to design the course I want. OER adoption has translated to a more customized--and more enjoyable--course. The students really bought in, too: The class could incorporate a diversity of materials, and students didn’t feel that they had paid a lot of money for a resource they used only a fraction of the time.
Forward thinking:
CHEM 150 was a great opportunity to try OERs, and I’m hopeful and excited to see OER adoption expand to other courses. My involvement with OER this academic year has revolved around adoption. I'm looking forward to taking the next step to either customize the textbook or contribute some of these recently developed materials to the community.

Dr. Amy RossomondoDr. Amy Rossomondo, associate professor & director of the Spanish Language Program, Department of Spanish & Portuguese
Course(s): SPAN 104 (Elementary Spanish I), SPAN 111 (Accelerated Elementary Spanish I & II), SPAN 212 (Intermediate Spanish I), SPAN 216 (Intermediate Spanish II), SPAN 428 (Advanced Spanish Conversation)
OER created: Acceso (http://acceso.ku.edu/). A collaboratively created, web-based curriculum for intermediate-level Spanish studies that structures critical exploration of the Spanish-speaking world to promote linguistic development, critical cultural literacy and intercultural learning.
OER impact:
Since Accesso’s launch in 2009, we are excited to say that the resource has saved KU students more than $900,000 in textbook costs and has since been adopted by numerous colleges and universities. When we first decided to create our own digital materials that structured students' interaction with online cultural production, it made perfect sense to have the project be openly available to anyone who might find it useful.
I am proudest of the learning that KU undergraduate students achieve through Acceso and the opportunities for pedagogical development that it has created for our graduate students. I am always excited to get an email or meet a new colleague at a conference who is successfully implementing the materials or adapting them for their own contexts.
Forward thinking:
We are looking forward to working on a complete site redesign of Acceso to be debuted in the fall of 2019 with the support of KU's new Open Language Resource Center, one of sixteen National Language Resource Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education. It is especially exciting that this financial support has coincided with Acceso's 10th anniversary!


Dr. Peter BobkowskiDr. Peter Bobkowski, associate professor, William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications
Course(s): JOUR 302: Infomania: Information Management
OER created: Be Credible: Information Literacy for Journalism, Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing Students (https://otn.pressbooks.pub/becredible/)
Student impact:
After five years of teaching JOUR 302, I recognized the demand for a textbook that immediately addressed the learning needs of our beginning journalism students. There were resources on information literacy, and there were traditional reporting textbooks, but there were no textbooks for budding journalists about how to find and use specific information sources and evaluate the credibility of information — so that was the textbook I set out to write!
What I like most in that we incorporated instructional videos in the OER, freeing up class time. Students get instruction from the videos on their own time so that we can devote our time together to addressing higher-order skills.
Key partnerships:
This OER would not have happened without KU Libraries, the support of Karna Younger and Carmen Orth-Alfie, and the OER Grant Initiative. Karna and Carmen were the catalysts for this project, and their enthusiasm for open education sustained it. These librarian colleagues convinced me to write an OER, and I convinced them to help me.


Noah RiesNoah Ries, 2018-2019 KU student body president
OER support for students:
When I announced that textbook affordability would be part of presidential platform, KU students loved the idea. It makes sense that in order to provide a quality education, we need to make materials affordable. With how expensive higher education already is, providing access to OER and low-cost materials is a prominent issue that we all need to be talking about. KU students deserve better.
KU Libraries as partners:
All of my work started from the motivation and the wisdom of KU Libraries faculty and staff. In September 2018, I didn't even know what OER meant — fast forward to April 2019, and I presented an award for textbook affordability. Kevin Smith and Josh Bolick of the libraries taught me so much about OER that I never expected.



For more information about the Textbook Heroes Initiative, including nominations of other deserving members of KU community, contact Scholarly Communication Librarian Josh Bolick.

  • Ada Emmett
    Director, Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright, KU Libraries

  • Josh Bolick
    Scholarly Communication Librarian
    Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright, KU Libraries

  • Marianne Reed
    Digital Initiatives Manager
    Digital Initiatives, KU Libraries

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