The university library is now part of the Open Textbook Network to “help support Penn State faculty’s use of and students’ availability to free, openly licensed academic course content,” the university said in a press release.
Basically, the Open Textbook Network provides students and faculty access to free peer-reviewed textbooks online. “Open textbooks are textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed,” the Network’s website says. Now that Penn State is in the Network, university faculty will also be able to review the textbooks.
If faculty commit to using open textbooks in classes, rising textbook costs could be a thing of the past for Penn State students. Many professors are already making the switch to free, online textbooks, opting to have students spend their course resource budgets on other tools like Top Hat or iClickers.
“Penn State’s membership in the Open Textbook Network supports faculty and students’ access to a large volume of free, openly licensed course content, available online, to help reduce students’ overall cost of attendance,” the University Libraries’ associate dean for Learning, Undergraduate Services, and Commonwealth Campus Libraries, Joe Salem, said in the release. “Joining the Open Textbook Network was one of the recommendations of the University’s Open Educational Resources Task Force as part of a multi-faceted approach to supporting open and affordable course content throughout the curriculum.”
Penn State will hold the Open Education Resources Summit on March 23 to “educate participants university-wide about OER, share updates from the provost-charged OER task force, showcase examples of OER in practice, and encourage active creation of OER content at a hands-on workshop.” An additional workshop in the fall will coincide with international Open Access Week in October.