Mabee offers grant for open access resources

Abbie Barth

Mabee Library offers a grant to encourage switching to open access resources.

The Washburn Open Textbook Grant is a $500 grant that will be awarded in the spring semester. The purpose of the grant is to increase affordable learning opportunities for students and to support faculty in the transition from traditional textbooks to open educational resources.

According to the Mabee Library website, an open educational resource is a resource that resides in public domain or was released under intellectual property license for free academic use, online or in print.

One of the current grant recipients, sociology and anthropology lecturer Ashley Maxwell, appreciates the accessibility of these resources to students.

“Open resources have allowed my students to have direct access to information from the first day of class. At times it has taken students three weeks to get their books. In addition, these resources save students money, which can eliminate issues of income inequity in the classroom,” said Maxwell.

Another grant winner, art lecturer Madeline Eschenburg, appreciates that open resources are more applicable to society today, unlike textbooks.

“Switching to open resources has allowed me to incorporate more readings on how the history of art relates to current issues and events affecting our world today,” said Eschenburg.

Amanda Luke, open access and public services librarian, says that although the resources are free, a lot of time and effort goes into using them.

“The award money is to help cover the amount of time that they spend. It does take some work to make the switch over, and they’re putting time into this. So, we’re paying them for the time that they spend making the switch,” said Luke.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the cost of textbooks has risen over 200% since 1997. Luke has been advocating strongly for utilizing open access resources during her time at Washburn.

“We’re encouraging them to go open access because the cost of textbooks is just astronomical,” said Luke.

The current grant winners are Maxwell, Eschenburg, physics and astronomy professor Brian Thomas, English senior lecturer Dennis Etzel Jr., and psychology professor Mike Russell.

“Using open resources has helped my students because the textbooks are online, have wonderful information designed by professors in academia and have financially relieved students. Of course, not all classes could benefit from OER, but those that can should utilize OER. This is an area of class-awareness for me, too,” said Etzel.

The grant is open to any Washburn faculty member that will be instructing a course during the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 academic years and currently assigns a commercial textbook. Only 16 applicants will receive the grant, but Luke encourages all faculty members to still make the switch to open access resources.

Edited by Jada Johnson, Adam White, Jessica Galvin