Geology Professor Tailors Free Textbook for Students

book coverGeology of National Parks (GEO 1033), a new core-curriculum course for non-science majors approved in Spring 2022, will be taught for the first time in Fall 2022. Using a UTSA-tailored Open Educational Resource created with UTSA Pressbooks, the course will introduce students to how the North American continent is put together geologically through a look at the iconic formation of the National Parks in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

The new course will be taught by Janet Vote, who was awarded an Adopt-a-Free-Textbook grant in 2021. A Senior Lecturer and Association of College and University Educators Teaching Fellow in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Vote is modifying Science, Geology, and National Parks (licensed CC-BY-NC-SA), as an open educational resource developed by Dr. Richard Alley, Evan Pugh, and Sridhar Anandakrishnan in the Department of Geosciences and College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Pennsylvania State University.

Using her grant funds Vote has hired UTSA student Elizabeth Heathman who is currently working on transferring Dr. Alley’s content into UTSA Pressbooks. From there Vote will create a tailored version of the original text, incorporating content from national parks not currently part of the text using National Park Service websites along with self-authored content. Once the textbook is mostly complete, Vote will design the course over the summer in preparation for the first offering in Fall 2022. GEO 1033 will be taught online in Fall, Spring, and Summer with the potential of enrolling up to 250 students per semester.

Vote has plans for continued enhancements, including hiring UTSA students to visit parks not currently represented in the text; adding additional chapters; and incorporating student videos, photos, and descriptions of park landmarks.

This project started with Vote reaching out to Academic Innovation in Spring 2021, with her need for a current OER on the subject matter. Academic Innovation’s Claudia Arcolin, director of Digital Learning, connected Vote with OER Coordinator DeeAnn Ivie, who recommended the Alley text for the project. Vote noted, "I took a look at the resource and it is perfect! In addition, it happens to be authored by a well-known Geologist who has authored other texts on the subject.”

“I’m very excited about this course and the impact that it will have on my students,” Vote continued. Having a free or low-cost textbook means students would have their materials on day one.” She added, “This will make a significant impact on student readiness. My vision is that OER in my discipline can be incorporated into the course without the students having to hunt for them or look for lower-priced alternatives and possibly risk not having the materials.”