OER grants to save students money on textbooks

Hundreds of Old Dominion University students in introductory chemistry classes will save a total of nearly $300,000 this academic year thanks to funding from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia’s textbook-free pathway grant.

John Cooper, the chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said each semester 700 students in the 100-level classes would average about $200 in savings.

“In some classes, half the students will not buy a book,” he added.

The program also allows instructors to customize textbooks for content.

“Using a textbook under the creative-content license allows faculty to modify or add content and redistribute,” Cooper said.

Janet Moloney, a lecturer, helped coordinate the program for the chemistry department. Cooper said this is the first year the department is participating.

The chemistry department was chosen because it’s an area in which “we have faculty doing learning communities where students take classes together in the same groups,” said Brian Payne, vice provost of academic affairs.

His office oversees the internal application process.

“Faculty were provided funds to participate in an intensive training focused on developing open educational material for their courses,” he said. “The funds were also designed to pay faculty for the time they spent developing those materials and revising their courses.”

In addition to the pathways grant, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry provided funding for the project.

Old Dominion initially won an Affordable Pathways Partnership Grant in 2016. It was used to develop 12 textbook-free courses in ODU’s leadership major. But one of the goals of the program was to expand the pathway to other degrees.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.