Preus Library joins Iowa Private Libraries calling for Open Educational Resources for students

The Luther College Preus Library is announcing its involvement in the Open Educational Resource (OER) statewide grant program. Developed by Iowa Private Academic Libraries (IPAL), the grant provides funds to faculty members to develop free educational resources and encourages faculty members to incorporate OERs into their courses.

“OERs have many benefits for students and faculty,” said Freeda Brook, the acquisitions and resource management librarian at Luther and IPAL board member. “For students, these free resources mean that they don't have to share textbooks, buy older editions or simply not have the textbook for class. It also means students can keep the textbook after the course is over, instead of selling it back to try to recoup some of the expense. For faculty, in addition to the benefit of knowing that all of their students have access to the textbook, switching to OERs can enable more modular, regularly updated content for their courses.”

As the director of Preus Library, Ryan Gjerde sees the potential for OERs to strengthen the student experience, as well as connections between the 21 participating private colleges in Iowa. The grant is a way to invest in the potential of students and in their future success. 

“I'm excited about the opportunities this grant provides to create a more equitable environment related to class texts,” said Gjerde. “The grant is really an investment in the classroom experience at Luther and our partner institutions. As more and more high-quality open resources are adopted, students should ultimately see a reduction in textbook costs. By reducing or eliminating the cost to acquire class texts, students will have fewer barriers to fully participate in class activities.”

The grant also removes barriers for faculty members who are interested in incorporating OERs into their courses or writing new educational resources in their area of expertise. 

“I'm really hopeful that this grant will help increase the visibility of OERs to our faculty, while providing them with the resources and incentives to make the transition,” said Brook. “I would really like to see greater OER use on campus because it will lessen costs for our students. I am also excited about the grant as a way to strengthen connections between private colleges in Iowa. New OERs created by faculty at Luther could be used by faculty at other colleges, and vice versa, which generally improves higher education in the state. The grant can also be used on collaborative projects across institutions.”

Luther faculty are invited to apply by Monday, Nov. 1 for grant funding for spring semester courses. Different award levels are available for various projects, including adopting or remixing OERs, creating support materials, redesigning a course around OERs and creating new OERs. Faculty can visit the IPAL website to apply or find more information. Spring 2022 projects that have received funding will be announced on Wednesday, Dec. 1. 


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Freeda Brook