University News

UMass Amherst Fall 2021 Open Scholarship Highlights

The UMass Amherst Libraries present the highlights of open scholarship activity during the fall 2021 semester at the university.

  • Faculty Incorporate OER Commitment in Their Syllabi. “There is no required textbook to purchase for this course” are welcome words to students, many of whom struggle to purchase expensive textbooks. Faculty using open education resources (OER) are adding a version of this sample statement to their syllabi under the “Textbooks and Materials” section, demonstrating their commitment to equitable access and education affordability through their use of OER.


  • Writing Program Anthology Saves Students Money. Elkie Burnside, assistant director of the Writing Program, engaged students and faculty in a meaningful collaborative process of OER creation. Burnside created a digital open access textbook for the roughly 5,000 students in College Writing courses. Starting this fall, the Student Writing Anthology replaced a text that cost students between $40-70. Burnside is also creating a digital repository of the annual best text contest the program holds every year. This will be a journal with the work of each year’s winners being shared and circulated publicly.


  • Two Professors Eliminated Student Textbook Costs and Made a Curriculum More Inclusive at the Same Time. Stacy Giufre, director of the Italian language program and the Italian graduate program, and instructor Melina Masterson developed Tutt* a tavola!, an OER for Elementary Italian. “In writing this book, our goals were to reduce costs for students in the hopes of making Italian a more inclusive language learning experience, as well as to offer the opportunity to learn about Italian language and culture to a more diverse group of learners.” Even the title of the book, Tutt* a tavola!, represents inclusivity. It translates to “Everyone at the table,” or, as an invitation, “Everyone to the table!” It’s the result of the 2020 grant cycle (link) and has received national exposure at the Language OER Conference.


  • “Expand Open Access Education for College Students.” UMass student Samantha Le wrote in the Daily Hampshire Gazette that OER “are easy to adapt to specific courses, no matter how niche the topic may be, and allow for collaboration between educators all around the world to help improve these resources… at UMass Amherst, OER has saved students over $2.5 million, and by having more professors switch from paid textbooks to open access education, this number can increase immensely. What we must do to win the game, then, is to advocate for larger OER grant funding and convince more professors to adopt OER. The goal is for all students to be able to study without worry, regardless of the major.”


  • Our Tools and Our Values. Open Access Week 2021 was marked by a keynote address by Ethan Zuckerman, associate professor of public policy, communication, and information, and director of the UMass Initiative for Digital Public Infrastructure. Martha Fuentes-Bautista, senior lecturer, director of Engaged Research and Learning with the department of communication, gave a response. The discussion explored how the digitization of all aspects of our lives presents an ongoing challenge for values-led organizations like public broadcasters, advocacy organizations, and libraries. We can take a first step towards resolving the conflicts between technology and values in auditing our technological environments and moving towards values aligned alternatives. But a deep shift requires creating an alternative technological infrastructure that's driven by public values rather than profits.