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OER Grant to Save Students Money on Textbooks

By Joe Garvey

Hundreds of Old Dominion University students in introductory chemistry classes will save a total of nearly $300,000 this academic year thanks to funding from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia's (SCHEV) textbook-free pathway grant.

John Cooper, the chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said each semester 700 students in the 100-level classes would average about $200 in savings. "In some classes, half the students will not buy a book," he added.

The program also allows instructors to customize textbooks for content. "Using a textbook under the creative-content license allows faculty to modify or add content and redistribute," Cooper said.

Janet Moloney, a lecturer, helped coordinate the program for the chemistry department. Cooper said this is the first year the department is participating.

The chemistry department was chosen because it's an area in which"we have faculty doing learning communities where students take classes together in the same groups," said Brian Payne, vice provost of academic affairs.

His office oversees the internal application process.

"Faculty were provided funds to participate in an intensive training focused on developing open educational material for their courses," he said. "The funds were also designed to pay faculty for the time they spent developing those materials and revising their courses."

In addition to the pathways grant, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry provided funding for the project.

Old Dominion initially won an Affordable Pathways Partnership Grant in 2016. It was used to develop 12 textbook-free courses in ODU's leadership major. But one of the goals of the program was to expand the pathway to other degrees.

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