CNM Presidential Fellows Exploring Ways to Expand Use of Free Online Textbooks

October 27, 2017 -- CNM English instructors Tammy Wolf and Jennifer Schaller would like to remove expensive textbooks and replace them with open educational resources (OER). These free online materials can save students thousands of dollars.
October 26, 2017

Reducing students’ textbook expenses is the goal for Wolf and Schaller, two of CNM’s 2017-18 Presidential Fellows, as they spend the year investigating how CNM can expand the use of free open educational resources.

The pair co-wrote a free online English 1101 and 1102 textbook that is being used by 1,200 CNM students this fall, saving them $120,000. They want to do the same with other classes across campus.

Schaller and Wolf are the project coordinators of the OER “Adopt, Adapt, Create!” It will be piloted in spring 2018. The deadline for faculty members to apply for this program is Nov.10. 

To prepare faculty for the application process, Schaller, Wolf and copyright librarian Mary Bates-Ulibarri are holding a workshop to inform faculty about how to apply for the tiered funding in this program, which starts at $500 to apply for existing OERs in their curriculum, $1,000 to put together pieces of several existing OERs with their own material and a course release to create their own material with a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons is an international organization that provides the public with free copyright licenses.

A free workshop will be held Nov. 3 at 10 a.m. in the CNM Main Campus Student Resource Center, Room 103. Faculty can sign up for the workshop through CNM’s Talent Management system, located on the employee tab in myCNM. To register, click on “Employee Learning,” then choose “Browse for Training.” The workshop is listed under the title “OER Pilot Program Workshop.”

Schaller and Wolf started talking about free online textbooks during an English faculty meeting a couple of years ago.

“We were pretty excited about providing students with a free online book that would otherwise cost $100,” Schaller said.

They pored through Creative Commons-licensed English texts, which are free to the public, and pulled out chapters from each that are appropriate to what CNM English students need to learn. They then revised those chapters to make them specifically geared for the CNM population and wrote new chapters for the CNM curriculum that they couldn’t find in the Creative Commons textbooks, making the online book specifically geared for the CNM population.

With the help of graphic designers in the Distance Learning department, they put together an interactive online textbook consisting of text, artwork and videos that are appealing to students.

As Presidential Fellows, the two hope to help faculty adopt, adapt, and develop more online, free textbooks that can be piloted in fall 2018.

CNM is the first postsecondary school in New Mexico to participate in a national OER initiative.

As Presidential Fellows, Schaller and Wolf are devoting the year to studying how CNM can use more OERs in the classroom. Each are teaching only three classes instead of the usual five.