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SUNY texts available systemwide

STAFF WRITER

Published: Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 11:11


A constant concern exists among students and faculty alike regarding the cost of furthering education. With the average college student spending $1,200 on textbooks each year, most are in the pursuit of doing so in the most inexpensive way possible.

In order to cut the cost of high-priced textbooks, State University of New York (SUNY) libraries, with the support of SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology has launched Open SUNY Textbooks. 

Open SUNY Textbooks is an open access textbook publishing initiative that publishes high quality, cost effective course resources by engaging faculty as authors and libraries as the publishing infrastructure. 

Participating SUNY schools include SUNY Geneseo, the College at Brockport, the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Fredonia, Upstate Medical University and University at Buffalo, in conjunction with other SUNY libraries and SUNY Press. 

This week, Open SUNY Textbooks released two textbooks, one named, “Literature, the Humanities and Humanity,” written by SUNY Fredonia Distinguished Teaching Professor Ted Steinberg, a professor at the college for more than 40 years. 

“I am very excited to be a part of this project,” Steinberg said. “I certainly hope that it not only helps students, but also saves them money.” 

The first pilot, which began in 2012, was the beginning step of launching the system. This phase included development of templates, workflow and publishing open textbooks and program details. The second pilot, scheduled to take place between 2013 and 2014, will be the phase in which the system will be refined and expanded, along with the development of the system and service infrastructure. 

The final phase, scheduled to take place between 2014 and 2015 will include the expansion of the program and development of author, teacher and student tools, including learning analytics. The 15 titles published will include subjects like anthropology, business, computer science, education, english, geological sciences, mathematics, music education and physics.

Three books by Brockport authors are set to be published to the network in the spring of 2014; the authors of these works include Amy Guptill, Natalie Sarrizan, Marcie Desrochers and Moira Fallon. Guptill, an Associate Professor of Sociology, said that she is incredibly happy to be included in the project.

“Like a lot of faculty, I am always concerned about the cost of textbooks for my students,” Guptill said. “So when the opportunity to be involved in creating an open-access resource presented itself, I leapt at it.” 

Guptill has been teaching a writing unit in the Delta College program since 2006, and said that she has never found a short writing guide that quite suited the purposes of her course. Her book for the project, entitled “Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence,” pulls together and further develops the lessons that she has created and refined through teaching the course. 

“Drafting the book last spring was a very interactive process,” she said. “It included meeting weekly with a student team who provided feedback on each of the draft chapters. I am finalizing the book now and assigning the chapters to first-year students in Delta. It should be released early next spring.”

During the process of writing for Open SUNY Textbooks, Guptill had a few students who were able to participate in giving her feedback about her text. 

“The feedback process was possibly one of the coolest things I have ever gotten to do,” freshman Kaethe Leonard said. “Every Friday morning we would meet in the library and give our opinions on the text in addition to writing student voices blurbs.” 

She explained that voice blurbs referred to a type of feedback each of the participants would give on each topic in the chapters. This involved reading the chapter that Guptill had written that week and then responding to what they had read.

Aly Button, another student who participated in the feedback step of the process for Guptill’s publication, said that she is excited to use the system.  

“Education hasn’t always been convenient or affordable for students, so I think that online courses in conjunction with the open textbook system is a step in the right direction in terms of making education more accessible for more people,” Button said.

Button continued by expressing her hope for a more widespread use of the online texts. 

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