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USD Addresses Textbook Affordability with Open Textbook Fellowship

VERMILLION, S.D. – In an effort to provide a more affordable education for University of South Dakota students, the Center for Teaching & Learning, in coordination with Academic Affairs, invites faculty to participate in the Open Textbook Fellowship (OTF).

USD follows a number of academic institutions who seek an alternative to commercial textbooks through open educational resources (OER) to reduce the cost students pay per year. Over the past decade, textbooks have increased in cost by 87.5 percent, according to Eric Mosterd, assistant director of CTL and e-Education Fellow with the SDBOR.

With support from President Sheila K. Gestring and guidance from Provost Kurt Hackemer, CTL developed the OTF to train and support faculty adoption of open textbooks to build USD’s capacity to better serve its students through affordable textbooks.

Participants of OTF will work with CTL staff to adopt and incorporate open textbooks and courseware into their courses, participate in assessing student outcomes in those courses and serve as faculty mentors to encourage further open textbook/courseware adoption at USD.

Faculty will use free or low-cost textbooks, written, edited and curated by subject-matter experts at leading university, and open courseware offered by other institutions such as quizzes, interactive content, exam question banks and more. They may also opt to develop their own open textbook and/or open courseware.

“The primary goal is to foster the adoption of open textbooks in courses, particularly those that will have a broad impact on undergraduate students across multiple sections,” Mosterd said. “The idea is that if we can move from, say, a $200 textbook to one that has a much lower cost—commonly around $20 for those open textbooks paired with courseware—or is free, that will result in a substantial savings to students.”

The call for OTF participation opened March 4. Since then, there has been a significant amount of interest from faculty, and Mosterd is certain they will be able to fill their first cohort of participants.

“We are very concerned about doing this in a deliberate fashion that not only ensures successful adoptions, but maintains academic freedom, ensures academic rigor and benefits the students,” said Mosterd. “That said, the faculty who are selected as fellows will be the ones to either choose or develop the open textbooks for their course. The CTL will simply play a supporting role in this regard but will also help facilitate data-gathering activities to measure the impact and success of the adoptions.”

The OTF is open to all USD full- and part-time faculty, regardless of location and modality of instruction. For more information and to apply, please review the call for participants or contact the CTL at


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News