Faculty and staff at MTSU’s University College are making it easier and more affordable for students to succeed in the classroom.
Kim Godwin, Meredith “MA” Higgs and Mike Boyle recently collaborated in publishing a textbook that will be used for two MTSU courses at no cost to students. The book can be accessed for free at any time thanks to the James E. Walker Library’s licensing of Pressbooks, an online platform that allows self-publishing of textbooks, articles and other documents that could be used in the classroom.
“What we are doing in University College is incredible,” said Higgs, an associate professor in University Studies. “This book allows them to have a real strategy that they can use now or reference later as well as enhancing access by replacing a more expensive text that might inhibit student participation.”
The book uses OER, or Open Educational Resources, as the source material. Through a $100,000 grant from the Tennessee Board of Regents, MTSU faculty and staff are creating Open Educational Resources to increase student success and equity by assisting underrepresented student populations with staying on track toward earning their degrees.
“Having the grant available made it possible for us to do things we had been talking about and gave us the momentum to follow through on some big ideas and initiatives,” said Godwin, an instructional designer with MTSU Online as well as an adjunct faculty member. “The library’s pressbook subscription allowed us to take resources that were already OER from all over and combine them into one resource that is easy to use and professional looking.”
Godwin explained that the text will be most helpful not only for its accessibility, but also because students won’t have to search through multiple sources looking for the appropriate text. Instead, it will be in the OER textbook.
Boyle leads one of the courses the book will be used for. He said that he, Godwin and Higgs worked approximately 300 hours on getting it just right, adding that some students were spending upwards of $200 on the book, something he was eager to change if at all possible.
“We knew there should have been a more cost-effective text out there, but we couldn’t find it,” he said. “There was nothing accessible, so we created our own.
“It was more work than any of us believed it would be, but I know that the next one we do and the ones following ours will be easier to accomplish,” he continued. “We are certainly available and eager to answer questions from anyone who wants to do this for one of their courses.”
Several University College faculty are in the process of developing their own textbooks using Pressbooks and hope to have them published in the coming months.