Wednesday, July 13, 2016

UNCG and ECU Libraries Awarded Grant to Support Open Educational Resources

A grant from the State Library of North Carolina will aid students at East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro by reducing their costs for required textbooks. The grant is part of the Library Services and Technology Act and is made possible by LSTA grant funding from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal grant-making agency. The State Library of North Carolina, a Division of the Department of Cultural Resources, awarded a grant to librarians from J.Y. Joyner Library at ECU and Jackson Library at UNCG to develop a two-pronged approach to Alternative Textbooks. Including matching funds from both universities, the  total cost of the two-year project is $184,332. 

Sharing best practices, procedures, and promotional materials, the librarians at both institutions will work with departmental faculty to reduce students' textbook costs and increase their academic engagement through two concurrent strategies. One strategy is to award departmental faculty mini-grants to adopt, adapt, or create Open Educational Resources (OER's) as the bases for their syllabi. The second strategy is to identify required texts that either the library already owns or can purchase as ebooks that students may use in addition to or instead of a printed copy that they purchase.  
Textbook affordability is a personal goal for Joyner Library director Janice S. Lewis, as well as a library goal. She is looking forward, she says, to working with colleagues at UNCG's Jackson Library on "our cooperative efforts to provide high quality educational resources to students while saving them money." Kathy Crowe, Interim Dean for the UNCG’s University Libraries, says “We are delighted to have the opportunity to enhance and build on our OER initiatives at UNCG and broaden the scope across the state.”  Student response to a UNCG pilot program was equally enthusiastic; one student commented "I believe that this method of teaching is great, and I have learned just as much as I would using a textbook."   

The Alternative Textbooks Project benefits to students include a reduction in the cost of attending college and increased opportunities for engagement and academic success in their classes. Studies of student achievement across multiple colleges and universities have suggested that students in OER  classes take more classes, have higher retention rates and shorter times to degree, and have learning outcomes equivalent to or slightly higher than students in classes with traditional textbooks.   

Any OER objects created will be made freely available to a global audience, and planning documents, procedures, and promotional materials will be shared with other libraries so that they can adopt this model for their own campuses. For more information, contact any of our co-principal investigators: Cindy Shirkey or Joseph Thomas from East Carolina University, orBeth Bernhardt from UNC Greensboro.   

Monday, July 11, 2016

Kayla Johnson Joins University Libraries as First Year Instruction Librarian

Kayla Johnson, is very excited to be joining the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as a First Year Instruction Librarian this summer in the Research, Outreach and Instruction Department.

Though originally from Minnesota, she has been living in Alabama for almost six years while in school and in her job as a Research and Instruction Librarian at The University of Alabama.  She received her MLIS in December 2014 from The University of Alabama, where she also received a B.A. in Anthropology.  Most of her experience has been with First Year Composition, but she also has experience working with the Spanish department, and have focused a lot on campus outreach to freshmen. She is very excited to get the opportunity to continue working with freshmen, because she believes that helping them form a strong academic foundation is a crucial part of ensuring that they have a successful college career. Her hobbies outside of work include reading, hiking, traveling, paddle-boarding, cooking, and going to concerts.