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Open Textbook Workshops Held on Campus

December 7, 2018

On December 6, 2018, the Drexel Libraries welcomed Sarah Cohen, Managing Director of the Open Textbook Network, and Joe Nowakowski, Professor of Economics and an OhioLINK Open Textbook Network System Leader, to campus for its first series of Open Textbook workshops.

Raising awareness of utilizing open textbooks is one of the Libraries’ strategic initiatives to help lower out-of-pocket expenses students incur to access curricular reading assignments. The Libraries enrolled Drexel in the OTN earlier this year as part of that strategic initiative, and these workshops are one of the many benefits of membership in the OTN.

The day started off in W. W. Hagerty Library with a workshop for faculty. Ten faculty members attended this session, which included discussions on the rising costs of textbooks and the impact those costs have on students and their learning. During the workshop, Cohen and Nowakowski also introduced attendees to the Open Textbook Library, a web-based library of peer-reviewed textbooks that are freely available and have copyright provisions which allow for sharing, adaption, and full reuse. 

Later in the day, Cohen and Nowakowski led a session for Drexel’s academic learning partners. 22 librarians, academic advisors, instructional designers, and other academic staff attended the event, during which they explored the content and copyright provisions of the Open Textbook Library. The discussion centered around how to raise awareness of open textbooks on campus, as well as tips for raising discussions about creating new open textbooks. 

Lastly, OTN visitors and Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries, met with Drexel administrators to discuss ways to support faculty exploration and use of open textbook materials at Drexel. The success of adopting open textbooks and other methods for containing student costs, requires administrative support for faculty to redesign courses. This discussion identified faculty desire to have time and guidance to redesign their courses to both improve their teaching as well as incorporate open reading assignments. Ideas about how Drexel administrators can support this change in teaching for the benefit of Drexel students included offering release time, having students’ review use of readings in courses and help in course design, and reward successful cases.

These three meetings were just the beginning of the Drexel Libraries’ work with access to open publications and the Open Textbook Network. The Libraries is hosting an OTN faculty webinar on December 13 from 5:00pm to 6:30pm, and the Libraries already has plans to host more faculty workshops during the winter quarter. And of course, staff welcome continued conversation with and among departments, schools and colleges throughout the year. Opportunities to join the initiative are also available through the Libraries’ Faculty Fellow program. The 2019 program includes opportunities to adopt, advocate or guide Drexel faculty to adopt open textbooks and/or to utilize information resources licensed by the Libraries in lieu of traditional textbooks.

The Libraries is excited to leverage Drexel’s membership in OTN and our expertise of the information marketplace to enable faculty to take advantage of OTN resources and other strategies to reduce student expenses while improving learning outcomes.  

More information about the Libraries’ work to contain the affordability of higher education is available online. Registration information for the OTN Faculty Webinar is also available online or contact for details.