Monday, June 29, 2020

The University of Iowa Libraries has awarded 12 grants for Open Educational Resource (OER) projects for the 2020-2021 academic year. OpenHawks is a campus-wide grant program that funds faculty efforts to replace current textbooks with OERs for enhanced student success.

OpenHawks is funded by the annual Provost Investment Fund (PIF) from the UI Office of the Provost. This year, two projects are jointly funded with the Office of Teaching, Learning, & Technology.

The funded OER projects, which were selected through a competitive application process, will benefit students in a wide range of disciplines, including fine arts, English as a second language, neurobiology, political science, foreign languages, communication sciences and disorders, education, communications, and biostatistics.

OER (such as textbooks, videos, assessment tools, lab books, research materials, or interactive course modules) are free for students to use. The 2020-2021 OER projects will save UI students $171,000 in the first year alone. Removing cost barriers to course materials opens student access and positively impacts learning.

The value of OER extends to the wider academic community, since they carry legal permission for open use. The open licenses under which these items are released allow any user at any institution to create, reuse, and redistribute copies of the resources.

OER provide further benefit when faculty fully integrate free resources into their curricula by “remixing” or tailoring materials to enhance specific learning objectives.

The next call for proposals will be in the spring of 2021. For more information, visit

Stephanie Dowda DeMer

OER creation grant: $4,700.

Title: Material Encounters.

Material Encounters is a textbook that will fill significant gaps in the research and presentation of alternative photography processes and theory. It achieves this by bringing together traditionally siloed information regarding process, theory, and interdisciplinary practice into one text to serve student research and faculty pedagogy. The textbook will include interviews with female-identifying and queer artists who innovate alternative processes and use their practices to address social, environmental, or personal issues.

Craig Dresser

OER creation grant: $8,200.

Title: Elements of Academic Writing

This text will help ESL students understand the purposes of writing assignments and their common component. This approach relies heavily on decision-making, informed by consideration of the context around the assignment. It aims to increase the students’ understanding and efficacy in the ways in which they communicate with their teachers through academic writing. In the end, students should be empowered to take on any manner of writing assignment, confident in their ability to communicate effectively.

Mei-Ling Joiner and Jason Hardie

OER creation grant: $8,200.

Title: A Centralized Online OER for Introduction to Neurobiology

Joiner and Hardie are developing a neurobiology OER to better align with the course as it is currently taught and to save students significant money on textbook costs. Existing textbooks for this course almost exclusively follow a molecule to whole organism approach, but the course begins with whole organism, then later addresses molecular level mechanisms, which invites the interest of students newly encountering neurobiology.

Courtney Juelich

OER creation grant: $3,000.

Title: Online Videos for Introduction to American Politics

By developing an online lecture system, students will replace the current $200 textbook with online video lectures and come to class ready to show comprehension and critical thinking through a discussion-based class. Teaching students of all majors about the basis of the United States government’s innerworkings, and the history of its laws is essential for our students’ growth and for our democracy.

Irene Lottini, Lucia Gemmani, Claudia Sartini-Rideout

Course redesign grant: $2,000.

Title: E-textbook and Workbook for Elementary Italian

The authors are planning to redesign this sequence to better help our students achieve the CLAS GE Program Outcomes and be prepared for programs abroad. The goal is to create an e-textbook and a workbook that will fulfill the two main objectives of redesigned courses: supporting students’ acquisition of the grammar and vocabulary that ensure meaningful communication and enhancing students’ familiarity with Italian culture. This project is co-funded by OTLT.

Stewart McCauley and Jean Gordon

Course redesign grant: $2,000.

Title: OER Redesign of Basic Neuroscience for Speech and Hearing

The authors will design a textbook that integrates topics in communication disorders with foundational concepts in neuroscience. This can best be achieved by using OER materials from a variety of domains—especially taking advantage of the wealth of freely available online audiovisual case illustrations—to better interweave normal and disordered processes. This project is co-funded by OTLT.

Mark McDermott

OER creation grant: $8,200.

Title: Developing an OER Toolkit for Science Methods Courses

McDermott will work with former students to develop an Open Educational Resource Toolkit that provides background information about the argument-based pedagogical approach the class explores, tools for planning units based on this pedagogical approach, supplemental resources for supporting science conceptual understanding, and sample activity plans for the experiences engaged in during the courses.

Sylvia Mikucki-Enyart

OER creation grant: $8,200

Title: Sexual Communication in Personal Relationships

The primary objective of this project is to create a no-cost, accessible, interactive, and flexible textbook and companion materials (e.g., activities, study guides) that enhance UI students’ theoretical understanding of sexual communication and increase their sexual communication efficacy to engage in sexual communication tasks (e.g., conversations surrounding consent, safe sex practices).

Beatrice Mkenda

OER creation grant: $8,200.

Title: Elementary Swahili Online Course

Swahili teaching and learning materials have relied on traditional textbooks, some of which lack listening materials. Listening is one of the most important skills in foreign language teaching and learning. The Swahili Online Course will be a proficiency-based teaching and learning resource for elementary levels and will provide interactive activities based on listening to native speakers of Swahili. Students will have an opportunity to listen and react to the video and audio in different ways, such as speaking, writing, reading, and identifying culture.

Caitlin Ward and Collin Nolte

OER creation grant: $6,000.

Title: Simulation Based Inference in Introductory Biostatistics

The American Statistical Association (ASA) recommends that introductory statistics education focuses on conceptual understanding, with an emphasis on technology and real data. Statistics education often places priorities on an antiquated view of the former, with symbolic manipulation and contrived examples taking priority over data exploration and statistical thinking, and BIOS:4120 is no different. Both the ASA recommendations and the advances in pedagogical literature on active learning bring to the forefront the need to restructure this course. The authors’ proposal aims to meet this need by developing a new resource, which empowers students to achieve a higher level of understanding through the use of technology and real-world data.

Sang-Seok Yoon and Joung-A Park

OER creation grant: $8,200.

Title: Developing a Textbook for First Year Korean Course

The objective of developing this resource is to make students’ learning experience more active, fun and challenging, and to reduce students’ financial burden of purchasing the textbook used in First Year Korean: First Semester. This textbook is an essential part of the class for self-study in addition to attending lectures and doing exercises in the class.

Giovanni Zimotti and Alexis Jimenez Candia

OER creation grant: $8,200.

Title: Intermediate Spanish II: Spanish for Healthcare

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese is undertaking efforts to redesign the GE CLAS Core sequence of Spanish. The aim is to modernize the curriculum offered to meet the needs of 21st century students and to better prepare them in their future careers. As part of this redesign, it is paramount to develop materials that are meaningful for the specific type of students that will be taking this course. Unfortunately, the commercially available textbook we currently use is very expensive for students and outdated. This project aims to create an OER textbook that is personalized to the educational needs of the students of Spanish Intermediate II: Spanish for Healthcare.