Since its inception in 2014, the Libraries' Alt-Textbook program has offered small grants to faculty instructors to create cost-free alternatives to traditional commercial textbooks. Thus far, over 75 Alt-Textbook grants have been awarded to faculty instructors to support the development of innovative teaching and learning experiences to many thousands of NC State students whilst saving them millions of dollars in textbook costs in the process.
Please see below for some examples of projects which the Alt-Textbook program has supported:
PRT 376: Sport Administration
Dr. Kimberly A. Bush teaches two sections of PRT 376 to approximately 110 students each spring. While the traditional textbook utilized previously was adequate, she envisioned an online textbook featuring more relevant and engaging content to fuel virtual and in-class activities. Her classes benefit from reading articles on more specific topics of importance in the course -- such as decision-making, delegation, organizational behavior, and more -- as well as significant cost savings and the ease of accessing course content through Moodle. Dr. Bush reports that this Alt-Textbook approach has worked well for her classes to date and is continuing to update the course and content along with it.
EAC 703: The Programming Process in Adult and Community College Education
Adult & Higher Education 703 is a core course in the department’s EdD program. Dr. Diane Chapman applied for a Student Success Grant through the Alt-Textbook Program to design updated course materials that would better align with a shift in the course’s focus to program evaluation. Dr. Chapman’s alt-textbook is comprised of tailored articles and papers has been met with overwhelmingly positive responses from her students. Students reported that they appreciated not needing to purchase or carry a costly textbook, the exposure they gained to more authors and sources, ease of access to resources through Moodle, and greater engagement with the texts.
MA225: Foundations in Advanced Mathematics
MA225 is required by majors in mathematics, statistics, and mathematics education, so Dr. Andrew Cooper wanted to design a resource that helped students from all disciplines understand how the course concepts are relevant to them. The new, e-published course notes incorporate examples, ideas, and issues from all three areas. They are synergistic with active learning and inquiry-guided pedagogies. These notes are vertically integrated with the NCSU Mathematics Curriculum. The resource also includes online, computer-graded homework problems, linked to the text, providing instant feedback with text support.
ECI515: Online Collaborations in Education
Dr. Michael Evans wanted to incorporate the pedagogies and ethos of online, connected, and participatory learning into this distance education course. Using GitHub, he created a prototype, crowd-sourced educational resource. This resource engages graduate students in the collaborative writing of an academic resource that serves the pedagogy of connected, participatory learning, and has the potential to reach an audience beyond the course. It also established a precedent for understanding the learning dynamics, assessment challenges, and workflow complexities associated with a crowd-sourced, rigorously-researched scholarly resource in a higher education setting. Finally, it documents and formalizes the tools, processes, and products of academic crowd-sourcing. The crowd-sourced prototype is now published and distributed as an Open Educational Resource for desktop and mobile devices.
CH226: Organic Chemistry I Lab
Dr. Maria T. Gallardo-Williams wanted to improve instruction in laboratory practices to the over 3,000 students who enroll in organic chemistry labs at the university each year. The resulting product, Student-Made Audiovisuals Reinforcing Techniques (S.M.A.R.T.), is a set of short videos created by undergraduate students to supplement learning in organic chemistry labs.
Each video is fully captioned and showcases a single laboratory technique. Most videos are under 2 minutes. Dr. Gallardo-Williams managed the project, but students worked together to design and create the videos, using social media to crowdsource topics and design. They can be accessed from the course site, on YouTube, or by scanning a QR code on the actual lab equipment. The videos produced measurable improvements in student learning, as well as significant cost-savings for students in Chemistry courses.
Metagenomics (BIT 477/577), High-throughput Discovery 495/595, and BIT 501 Ethical Issues in Biotechnology
Dr. Carlos Goller created 3 Pressbooks, an open-source, textbook publishing platform built on Wordpress. For BIT 477, lecture notes were converted into chapters which students reviewed outside of the classroom, leaving more time for experimentation and lab work during class time. Students in BIT 495 published their lab analyses using a Pressbook. BIT 495 collected samples from other courses and campus partners. This Pressbook makes the data available to all participants and continue building on the dataset, with the goal of engaging more participants throughout campus. In a similar vein, BIT 501’s Pressbook was dynamically created by students. Case studies about ethics in biotechnology was the launchpad for a collection of student analyses and finding.
IS 395: Globalization and Migrations
Dr. Nora Haenn wanted to redesign a course and critically engage her students in creating and contributing to public knowledge. In this course, students created Wikipedia entries related to the topic of Global Migrations. Unlike traditional course assignments, the student work form this course contributed to a global knowledge base and exist beyond the classroom. The syllabus and assignments are hosted and facilitated through the WikiEdu Dashboard. Wikipedia standards require that claims and statements be substantiated by scholarly literature and that articles are written in a “neutral voice.” You can read more about the project in Dr. Haenn's blog post.
FLE201: Oral Communication in English for International Students
Each year, more international students come to NC State than any other university in the state. For many of them, English is a foreign language. Juliana Kocsis, who teaches these students, developed an open source textbook for upper-intermediate to advanced English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students. This project draws from existing materials such as those found on Merlot, to create a cohesive and structured set of resources. In developing a more sequenced, focused group of resources for an EFL classroom, this project benefits not only the changing population of international students at NC State, but also students around the world who study English as a foreign language, as well as ESL/EFL instructors around the world. Click here to explore the Oral Communication in English Alt-Textbook.
BIO105: Biology in the Modern World
Dr. Jennifer Landin's course is targeted at science and non-science students, making it difficult to find a textbook for all students. Dr. Landin's print-on-demand textbook for BIO105 includes relevant articles and book chapters, as well as multimedia, online content. This content is carefully curated to be accessible for all audiences. It includes popular articles and videos for students to read and apply the information from class to real-world situations, as well as book chapters and content created by the instructor specifically for the course. This textbook links scientific concepts to scenarios so students have a more complete understanding of course concepts.
HI 346: Introduction to Civil War and Reconstruction
Dr. Susanna Lee wanted to create an interactive, multimedia US history alt-textbook, focused on sectionalism, the Civil War, and Reconstruction (1789 to 1898). The alt-textbook program allowed her to hire a graduate student from the History department to help create the textbook. Student feedback on the textbook was generally positive, with some students even giving unsolicited glowing commentary on how much they enjoyed having a free interactive textbook. Lee emphasized the interactivity of the book, noting that it helped cement lessons to immediately have follow-up questions about the section embedded into that interactive part. She also noted that reviews were surprisingly high for the class being taught online, which she at least partially credits to the alt-textbook.
MAT 401: Applied Partial Differential Equations
Mathematics 401 is a required course for mathematics students and many engineering students, involving over 100 students each semester. Teacher’s of MAT401 have never found an excellent textbook for the course. One was highly-priced and far too dense for the course. The other was free for NCSU Students as an ebook, but a poor substitute. Dr. Zhilin Li’s grant has provided the resources to complete work on an open-source textbook that aims to be practical, elementary, concise and reasonably rigorous; the book will be accompanied with tested Maple and Matlab codes. These features distinguish the book from other textbooks available in the related area.
PRT238: Diversity and Inclusion in Parks, Recreation, and Sport Management
PRT238 is a required course for all PRTM undergraduate students, around 340 students in multiple sections a year. Yet there was no standard textbook for this course. Further, the topics of this course change rapidly, making it difficult to find up-to-date resources. Janell Moretz wanted to offer instructors and students of this course and similar courses at other institutions a current and complete resource. This Alt-Textbook includes relevant chapters from various textbooks, innovative and interactive online simulations, current news articles, published journal articles, and video lectures from guest speakers and professors. It is an engaging set of resources, allowing students to gain hands-on experience and challenges them to think critically and solve problems. Click here to explore the Diversity and Inclusion in PRTM Alt-Textbook.
MA 103: Topics in Contemporary Mathematics
Dr. Stepan Paul adapted the MA-103: Topics in Contemporary Mathematics course to use an open-source textbook and free homework platform in MyOpenMath. In doing this, Dr. Paul removed textbook costs for the approximate 250 students per year who enroll in his course. MyOpenMath gave Dr. Paul freedom to create customized homework problems along with the ones which were already available. In addition to the financial impact of the switch, students now have a more robust set of homework problems associated with the new platform. The new textbook is now widely used in college courses similar to this one.
BIT410/510: Core Technologies in Molecular Biology
In the biotechnology field, methodologies evolve at a rapid pace, and traditional biotechnology textbooks often become outdated even before making it to print. To enhance student learning and eliminate an additional financial burden to NCSU students, Dr. Sabrina Robertson, Dr. Carlos Goller, and BIT have created a student-driven, biotechnology open educational resource (OER). The BIT OER is a dynamic online educational platform for all things biotechnology-related. The unique content on this site is created and evaluated by teams of students working together to provide an innovative, freely accessible educational resource or the local, national, and international biotechnology community. Click here to explore the BIT Alt-Textbook. (This link is broken. We're working on fixing it)
ECD561: Strategies for Clinical Assessment in Counseling
All students in this course must purchase the most recent version of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), but there is strong need for a value-added supplement focusing on wellness, empathy, and treatment planning for specific diagnoses. Dr. Adria Shipp and Dr. Michael Evans collaborated to create a desktop and mobile accessible web resource that functions as a knowledge repository. Students can access resources related to diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders, including video clips and research related to evidence-based interventions. Students enrolled in any course requiring the DSM can use this resource, instead of purchasing supplementary textbooks.
SOC 202: Principles of Sociology
Dr. Thomas Shriver adapted his course to adopt OpenStax's Sociology 2e textbook in place of a textbook routinely priced over $200 for his class of up to 300 students per semester. Dr. Shriver was motivated by an increasingly concern about the rising costs of textbooks and a concern that some students were avoiding purchasing texts because of the costs. With the OpenStax option, all SOC 202 students could access the new textbook free of charge and the material was accessible on any of his students devices. In addition to the bonus of removing the cost barrier to his students, Dr. Shriver was able to take utilize the additional instructor resources which accompanied the OpenStax text such as the customizable PowerPoint slides and test banks to help ensure a smoother course redesign transition.
ST/CSC495: Introduction to Data Science
Dr. Alyson Wilson's Introduction to Data Science course is an upper-year, interdisciplinary course, taken by students with heterogeneous backgrounds. The course is largely hands-on, and needs course materials that supplement the learning experience. This Alt-Textbook includes readings that provide "leveling" background, real-world context, and supplementary details for each topic. This includes a compilation of pre-existing Open Educational Resources on basic topics, as well as more specialized resources. Since data science is a rapidly evolving field, the Alt-Textbook provides the ability to update course materials each year. Click here to explore the Introduction to Data Science Alt-Textbook.(This link is broken. We're working on fixing it)