VILLANOVA, Pa. - Assistant Professor Alexander Diaz-Lopez, PhD, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Assistant Teaching Professor Stephanie A. Katz Linkmeyer, PhD, Department of Chemistry, were two of five Villanova faculty members to win Open Education Resource (OER) grants through Villanova's Affordable Materials Project (AMP).
These pilot grants, funded by the Associate Vice Provost of Teaching and Learning, are designed to encourage faculty to select free, openly licensed textbooks as primary teaching materials, which have become critically important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to an article posted on the Falvey Memorial Library website, almost 200 students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering and the Villanova School of Business will benefit. These grants will potentially save students more than $23,000 during the 2020-21 academic year, a 360% return on investment.
Dr. Diaz-Lopez said that during his first semester at Villanova, two students told him they were not able to obtain the book he assigned. Since then, he has been an advocate for OER books and even designed a new graduate course, Applied Combinatorics, with OER principles in mind.
"Truthfully, it has and continues to be a gigantic task (as it probably is to design any course)," he said. "I use the OER book for about 75% of the material we cover and complement it with more advanced problems for which I write my own notes and solutions. With these choices, the students don’t have to spend a dollar on the textbook, plus many of them said they really like the online version of it."
This semester, Dr. Katz Linkmeyer is teaching Chemistry of Water online. "To offset the frustration students may have about taking this course online, I decided to design the course with cost-free materials," she said. "I looked to the Affordable Materials Project to find a textbook that would satisfy this goal and came across the OpenStax Chemistry textbook, which is peer-reviewed, openly licensed and 100% free to use. I have downloaded the textbook both into my Blackboard shell and into my students' Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs). This resource also comes with PowerPoints that I was able to modify to fit my course."
Learn more about Villanova's Affordable Materials Project.