Russell L. Sharman, assistant professor of practice for the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Communication, was selected for Open Educational Course Materials Conversion Program funding in Spring 2019, a collaborative project between the Global Campus and University Libraries.
He has now published an open textbook for COMM 1033: Basic Course In Arts: Film Lecture. Moving Pictures replaces a previously assigned textbook that retails for $106 for over 200 students who enroll in Sharman’s sections of the course.
“Dr. Sharman’s work will benefit a large number of students who enroll in COMM 1003, a state minimum core option for meeting the fine arts requirement,” said Elaine Thornton, open education and distance learning librarian. “The publication of this new OER now offers students the option to complete yet another core requirement with no additional textbook costs.”
The textbook, which is interactive and meant to be viewed online, can also be downloaded and printed for those who prefer physical copies. It was published on the Libraries’ Pressbooks site, which accommodates interactivity and media-rich formats.
“After years of trying to force unwieldy and overpriced textbooks to fit my teaching style, only to have students ignore the reading anyway, I decided I should write something myself,” said Sharman, who is also a filmmaker and anthropologist. “Something concise, interactive and, hopefully, entertaining. Especially for something like cinema studies, which can never come to life as it should as simply words on a page.”
“The goal was to provide a dynamic text that students actually read and interact with, and as such, come to class ready to engage the material. And if we could make it free, thanks to the library, then there was no question I wanted to make it happen. The best part is, this is a living document. I can add, subtract, edit, update and re-arrange in real time. And so can anyone else who wants to adapt it for their courses. And with 600 to 800 students passing through the Film Lecture course here at the university every semester, that has the potential to impact a significant number of students,” Sharman said.
Other courses in the state minimum core with low cost and no cost textbook options include sections of HIST 2003 and HIST 2013, the U.S. history surveys; PHYS 2054: University Physics; and ASTR 2003: Survey of the Universe.
“We hope this trend continues,” Thornton said. “We look forward to working with more faculty who want to move toward providing their students with open resources that enhance teaching and learning.”