Supporting Students Through Open and Affordable Course Materials

As we move forward to the semester ahead of fully online classes and the educational community responds to COVID-19, you may be receiving emails from vendors offering limited-time free access to their tools and platforms. We encourage instructors to explore open textbook or library-licensed e-book textbook alternatives during this transition to online teaching, which are always free or affordable. 

Please remember that students may be experiencing greater financial stress than usual if they’re not able to work due to the coronavirus. You might want to consider investing your time in trying resources and tools that will continue to be free to you and your students after the crisis is over. These options will increase first-day access to required course materials and save students time and money during this stressful time. According to our 2017 survey, 72% of FSU students do not purchase textbooks due to cost and 93% prefer a free online textbook over a traditional print option. 

Subject librarians are available to work with instructors to locate open or already licensed content in order to save students money and ease the pedagogical burdens of the current situation. If you are interested in adopting a library e-book for your course, please consult your subject librarian so we can check on the resource license as not all of our e-books are available for multi user simultaneous usage. 

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From Guilia Forsythe, Flickr

Open Educational Resources & Open Textbooks 

Open educational resources (OER) are freely-accessible, openly licensed textbooks, media, and other digital assets that are useful for teaching and learning. OER can be reused, customized, and widely shared by others. Many courses at FSU already utilize open textbooks including CHM1045. Our top suggestions for open textbooks include:

  • Openstax: Peer-reviewed, open textbooks on introductory topics. Students can buy print copies. See their blog post on Teaching online with OpenStax to support emerging social distancing requirements. OpenStax has quiz banks, slides, and other ancillaries freely available for instructors who sign up with them. OpenStax Allies offer competitively-priced homework platforms that work with OpenStax books, and many of them are waiving costs right now.
  • Open Textbook Library : Read peer reviews and access open textbooks being used across the world.
  • OER Commons: Public library of open educational resources wit platform for content authoring & remixing.
  • BC Campus OpenEd: Search for quality open textbooks offered in a variety of digital formats.
  •  Lumen Learning: Offers a wide array of open content that you can access for free. Their Waymaker and OHM modules are low-cost homework platforms that can be integrated with Canvas

Don’t use a standalone textbook? Many instructors chose to use a mix of open resources to support their curriculum instead of just one open textbook. Sources include TED Talks, online news articles from publications such as The Guardian, government information such as cdc.gov, and other high-quality information available online. Some instructors also use Open Scholarly Monographs as educational resources in their course, which carry the same open licenses.

  • Mason MetaFinder: Search engine that includes a variety of open materials for those looking to mix content and recently added 1.4 million + books from the Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library.
  • OASIS: Search tool for open content from 97 different sources and contains 385,629 records of textbooks, modules, videos, podcasts, primary resources and more.

Library-licensed E-books, Articles, and Online Resources for the Classroom 

Library-licensed material expands the amount of materials available for higher-level coursework and complements other OER materials. Many faculty at FSU have opted to adopt e-books, journal articles, videos, images, and other digital resources from our collection. If you are interested in browsing our immense online collection for course materials, here are a couple of our search tools:

OneSearch: Search through many resources at once using our OneSearch tool. Whether you are looking for an e-book or searching broadly by subject or keyword, OneSearch is a great place to start your searching. OneSearch is also a good place to find items by citation – just paste the citation right into the search box.

Databases A-Z List: If you know which database you are looking for, use this list to find the specific database by title.

Databases by Subject List: Our subject librarians have selected the top databases for each subject in this list, helping identify the top resources for each subject.

Journal Search: This tool allows you to find journals by title or subject.

Streaming Media: Showing films in online courses requires some additional planning. We are happy to share that FSU Libraries provide access to multiple video platforms. If you are interested in using our streaming media resources in your online courses, please check out our Streaming Media in Your Course guide for tips on finding streaming resources and streaming models that best suit your course material needs.

FSU Libraries is committed to developing open and affordable solutions that will ease the burden of textbook costs. Affordable course materials are going to be more important to students than ever. Find out more about FSU Libraries Open and Affordable Textbook Initiative.

If interested in exploring open and affordable options for your course, please contact Camille Thomas at cthomas5@fsu.edu or Lindsey Wharton at lwharton@fsu.edu.

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