Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grant will help UI fund open-source textbook initiative

The University of Illinois will widen its foray into online, customizable textbooks with help from a federal grant.

The Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs has been awarded a $150,000 grant to establish an initiative that provides open-source textbook access for Illinois students.

The grant is for all three campuses to share, so the head of the project, Charles Evans, the director of university outreach and public service, says the money is only a beginning.

He credited Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, with pushing for the Department of Education grant. Last year, Durbin sought a $300,000 appropriation for the UI and Benedictine University in Lisle to create two open textbook programs.

It's too early to say what the textbook will be about, but Evans gave an example of how different units could work together, from academic departments to the University of Illinois Press.

For instance, at all three campuses there is research in sustainability, he noted.

In Urbana, there are groups in engineering, in Liberal Arts and Sciences, and in Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. The Springfield campus has faculty expertise in environmental sustainability, and Chicago has sources in both engineering and liberal arts.

The open-source textbook grant was featured in a June 21, 2010, article in the Champaign News-Gazette.

Download a PDF of the article