The University of Akron’s Affordable Learning Initiatives

University of AkronThe University of Akron’s University Libraries and Instructional Services has been working to advance the adoption of open textbooks across multiple courses. Combined with efforts from University Council’s Textbook Committee, a list of the top 50 enrolled courses with the potential for open/affordable textbooks and open educational resource adoption has been compiled. The textbook committee is also researching the cost of materials for popular majors / programs to help spread awareness of material costs to faculty.

Currently, UA is in the process of integrating Open Educational Resources and Open Textbook Adoption into multiple faculty development opportunities around campus. Each semester, University Libraries hosts a “Designing and Developing Your Online / Hybrid course Workshop”, which discusses Fair Use, Copyright, Creative Commons, and Open Educational Resources. These topics are introduced in the context of designing a new course or re-designing an existing course, as planning for open resources can take a considerable amount of time. Faculty are encouraged to evaluate open textbooks and resources to determine if they align to their course and module objectives. The workshop itself contains around 30 hours of formal instruction from our instructional design and multimedia team, and the entire experience is “gamified” to engage our faculty with each of these topics. Since 2013, we have taught 130+ faculty about Open Educational Resources through our workshop, with two faculty adopting open / affordable texts recently. Numerous other departments are now in the preliminary stages of either authoring, curating, or adopting open/affordable texts and resources.

  • Advocacy Initiatives: The University Libraries sponsors an annual conference called “New Explorations in Teaching” a.k.a. “NEXT”. This annual conference is hosted in February at the University of Akron and this year’s NEXT program logoconference will focus on how faculty and students “create” content. There is an entire theme track dedicated to Open Educational Resources and the conference serves as a wonderful faculty engagement tool and opportunity to share ideas across disciplines and institutions. This conference will also host an Ohio-centric pre-conference workshop based on the Open Textbook Network’s official training. To learn more about NEXT, please visit our site:
  • Adoption Initiatives: The University of Akron currently has two courses that utilize open textbooks as a direct result of our faculty development initiatives. Principles of Microeconomics has adopted the Open Stax Principles of Economics textbook, which has saved students between $32,000 to $81,000 in material costs (dependent on whether a student purchased the fully online textbook or a hardcopy).

We also have a new course called “Exploring Biology”, which makes use of the Open Biology textbook. This text has since been placed into Lumen Learning’s open textbook repository. Through the adoption of this open text in addition to identifying some affordable supplemental materials, we have been able to lower the cost of materials by 85%. We are continuing to develop additional courses utilizing open textbooks over this next year.

Contact Information: Steve Kaufman, Senior Instructional Designer, OhioLINK Affordable Learning Ambassador,
University Libraries,, 330-972-6874. For more information about the University of Akron's Affordable Learning Initiatives, please check out their new website at: