Ohio University

Alt-Textbook Initiative

A student cost-savings initiative

The high costs of textbooks can inhibit student success. According to 2014 research by Student PIRGs, 65% of students in their survey decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive, even though many of them (94%) were concerned that doing so would hurt their grade.

For the past two years, University Libraries, in collaboration with instructional technologists and designers from the Office of Instructional Innovation, has offered a program to encourage and support instructors in efforts to use open educational resources and licensed library content in place of expensive course materials.  While overhauling a course that has traditionally been taught with a textbook is not an insignificant task, instructors can save students money by making use of already purchased library-content and/or the growing number of quality open education resources.  Additionally, research shows that 93% of students who use open education resources do as well or better than those using traditional materials.

logo representing alternative textbook formats

The Libraries offered incentives to redesign courses and reconstruct syllabi and provided assistance to instructors in identifying and integrating alternative content into their courses.  The financial incentives were meant to acknowledge the amount of time it takes to identify new resources, adjust syllabi, learn new technologies, and modify assignments.

This initiative has been highly successful and has resulted in nearly $430,000 in annual savings to OHIO students.

More details about each year of our programs can be found in the 2015-16 Final Report (PDF) and the 2016-17 Final Report (PDF).

For help with identifying and incorporating alternate content for your course, contact your subject librarian.  If you are interested in a customized alt-textbook program for your group, please contact Kelly Broughton.

Topics covered in this program include:

Instructional Design:  Choosing materials to assign to your students should be part of an overall thoughtful and purposeful course design strategy.  What are your course goals and lesson objectives and what content is needed for the students to meet those goals and objectives?  Seek out for assistance from the experts in the Office of Instructional Innovation.

Content Discovery:  Once you have determined your goals, objectives, and learning outcomes, consultation with your subject librarian can speed the process of content discovery. Be it library licensed or open; text, data, or multimedia, your librarian can help find the right content, help interpret rights issues, and point you in the right direction for next steps.

Copyright and Creative Commons

Open Educational Resources

Tools used at OHIO to enhance blended learning:

  • Curriculum Builder/Libraries Content Folder:  a tool inside Blackboard to search for and link to licensed library content (copyright compliant) and build reading lists at the same time. Look for the tool called “Libraries Content Folder” under the “tools” menu in your course Content folder.
  • Playlists:  Many of the Libraries’ databases of multimedia content (VAST, Kanopy, Naxos, ArtSTOR) contain tools for instructors to create playlists, clips, and slideshows that can be shared with students.  Ask your librarian for assistance.
  • Panopto: a lecture capture software that allows Ohio University faculty to record their lectures and students to replay those lectures at a later time.  Panopto has several potential uses, such as: recording a demonstration in class, creating a voiceover PowerPoint presentation, recording student presentations, and many more.  Lecture capture hardware available to borrow at the Bobcat Depot.
  • Top Hat: a student engagement platform that instructors use inside and outside of the classroom. Top Hat provides a lecture tool that tracks attendance, asks questions, features interactive slides, and manages classroom discussions. Also offers a platform where instructors can adopt, customize, or create content for their courses.
  • VoiceThread:  a cloud-based application that allows users to upload, share and discuss documents, presentations, images, audio files and videos. Over 50 different types of media can be shared in VoiceThread. Users can comment on VoiceThread slides using one of five commenting options: microphone, webcam, text, phone and audio-file upload. Additionally, using VoiceThread’s “doodle” tool, you can markup or annotate the multimedia you have uploaded when leaving a typed, video or audio comment. Users can keep a VoiceThread private, share it with specific people, or open it to all.