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KU Libraries publish first open textbook

Monday, March 27, 2017

KU Libraries and the Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright continue their commitment to open educational resources (OER) by publishing Dr. Razi Ahmad’s open textbook entitled, “Tajik Persian: Readings in history, culture and society.” This book is available through KU ScholarWorks, KU’s open access digital repository, and is also indexed in the Open Textbook Library, a free online collection of more than 360 openly licensed textbooks curated by the University of Minnesota based Open Textbook Network.

“It has been a great experience working with all the library faculty and staff who helped me on this project,” said Ahmad. “Tajik is one of the critical languages for which there exist very limited pedagogical materials for elementary and intermediate-level and virtually negligible for the advanced-level students. ‘Tajik Persian: Readings in history, culture and society’ is a modest attempt to provide instructors and students free of cost advanced-level textbook that can be used as the primary or supplementary material in classrooms.” 

Currently, “Tajik Persian: Readings in history, culture and society” has more than 141 views from nine countries.

“OER are an essential tool in lowering barriers to the learning of languages, especially those that are both less commonly taught and are of strategic importance for our country, including Persian, among many others,” said Marc L. Greenberg, director of the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures. “The KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures actively supports the creation and dissemination of open educational materials for learning languages and about cultures. There is an enormous unmet need for US citizens with high-level foreign-language and inter-cultural skills, both for the benefit of business as well as national security, and so we work hard to remove impediments to access to this part of higher education.”

Responding to the increased costs of textbooks, KU Libraries have expanded the long-time advocacy for open access into educational resources, joining the Open Textbook Network and hosting workshops for faculty and staff.

“We are excited to support Dr. Ahmad’s open textbook project, and grateful to our colleagues in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for their help as well,” said Josh Bolick, scholarly communication librarian. “Our goal is to assist faculty in finding a voice for their projects, particularly where there may be little or no commercial market for them. By hosting the OER in KU ScholarWorks, it is discoverable and preserved. In addition, open textbooks cost students nothing.”

Open textbooks are full, real textbooks, accessible worldwide and licensed to be freely used, edited and distributed. They can help alleviate the burden of textbook costs for students and provide faculty with content that may be customized for their courses.

“Dr. Ahmad’s textbook highlights the benefits of open educational publishing,” said Ada Emmett, director of the Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright. “Not only is his work discoverable, but faculty world-wide can adopt all or portions of Ahmad’s text. As opposed to traditional publishing, OERs allow flexibility in faculty adoption of texts, where faculty can remix, revise and reuse content that works for their courses.”

KU Libraries provide information on open educational resources, including details on KU’s OER grant initiative, where faculty are encouraged to apply for open textbook support.

“Faculty research is a core library priority, and our open educational resource grant provides faculty access to the libraries’ vast expertise,” said Kevin L. Smith, dean of libraries. “We were honored to work with Dr. Ahmad, and we will continue partnering with faculty to create textbooks that support student success while reducing burdensome costs.” 

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