Category Archives: Faculty Stories

Faculty Stories – Dr. Michael R. Markham

Dr. Michael Markham, is the Case-Hooper Assistant Professor of Neurobiology in the University of Oklahoma Department of He has created a set of open materials for his students in his Introduction to Neurobiology course.  

  • Course: BIOL 3833
    • Previous Textbook:  Different options over the years
    • Alternative Textbook: a set of content and resources available on the course website.

The following is a brief conversation about adopting an alternative textbook for teaching. 

Stacy Zemke: What areas do you teach in and in what course are you using an open textbook?
Michael Markham: I teach primarily neurobiology courses.  For Introduction to Neurobiology (BIOL3833), I use a combination of open textbooks, downloadable texts that I have prepared for the class, open access software, and other no-cost materials.

SZ: Why did you decide to switch to or try out an open textbook solution for your course?
MM: The main reason was because of the skyrocketing costs that students have to pay for traditional textbooks.  I wanted to reduce the financial burden associated with college coursework.

SZ: What is the open textbook source or sources you are using for your class and what book/books did you replace?
MM: The open-source readings and software for the class are found
and here: 

SZ: How many students of yours have used this open solution (total across semesters).
MM: I have taught this class three times now, reaching just over 100 students.

SZ: What was your process for selecting/creating this open book?
MM: I selected the online text that I use after surveying several other open-access texts.  The one I selected is produced by a team of well-respected neurobiologists at a prominent medical school.  The texts I have produced for the class focus on the core concepts that I consider most important in the class.

SZ: What are/were the challenges in changing to the open textbook – is it similar to adopting a new “traditional’ textbook for a course – or are there other challenges?
MM: There were practically no challenges involved in switching to this open textbook.  All I had to do was provide links to the appropriate chapters on my class web page (   This was actually far easier than managing adoption of a traditional textbook.

SZ:  How have your students responded to this open textbook?
MM: Students’ responses have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic.  While several have mentioned that they prefer traditional textbooks, even in those cases the students said that the cost savings far outweighed their preference for a printed text.

SZ: Will you continue to use this current open solution?
MM: Absolutely!

SZ:  Would you consider using an open source for other courses that you teach?
MM: Definitely – I already have.

SZ: What advice do you have for other faculty who are considering using alternative textbooks?
MM: I would certainly encourage other faculty to consider adopting open texts for their classes wherever possible as a service to our students.  In some cases, obviously, this is not possible because no acceptable open alternative exists, or the class plan depends on a traditional text.  However,  in many disciplines and specialties, high-quality open access texts are available.  Where they are, please consider that one week of full-time work at minimum wage does not even begin to cover the cost of textbooks for one semester.   Many of our students are working full- or part-time to support their education.

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Faculty Stories – Dr. Wayne Riggs

Dr. Wayne Riggs is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Philosophy.  He has adopted an open textbook for teaching Logic.   Course: PHIL 4133, Symbolic Logic I Previous Textbook:  Different options over the years Alternative Textbook: forall x, An Introduction to Formal Logic, by P.D. Magnus The following is a briefContinue Reading

Faculty Stories: Dr. William Ray

Dr. William Ray is the Vice Provost and Dean, Tulsa Graduate College He has created a digital course pack for his course, including his class lecture notes and additional content that he wrote and makes available to students as PDFs. Course: HR 5023, Introduction to Research in Human Relations Previous Textbook:  Introduction to Statistics by Mario F. Triola Alternative Textbook:Continue Reading

Faculty Stories:  Dr. Lawrence Baines

Faculty Stories: Dr. Lawrence Baines

As part of our ongoing series of faculty’s experiences creating and adopting alternative textbook solutions for students, this weeks post is from Dr. Lawrence Baines,  Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and Professor of English Education in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education has taken a different approach to open from some of the other faculty highlightedContinue Reading

Faculty Stories: Paul Sims

Faculty Stories: Paul Sims

As part of our ongoing series of faculty’s experiences creating and adopting alternative textbook solutions for students, this weeks post is from Dr. Paul Sims.  Dr. Sims received a grant from the Alternative Textbook Initiative here through OU Libraries to take the iBook he created for his CHEM 3753, Introduction to Biomechanical Methods lab andContinue Reading

Faculty stories: Laura Gibbs

Dr. Laura Gibbs has been teaching online since 2002, and has been teaching with open content almost exclusively for that time. She has worked over the summer of 2014 to create an Un-Textbook.  The resources are created from open content – so they are openly available for students in her MLLL 3043 Mythology and Folklore course, as well asContinue Reading

New Series – Faculty stories of Open Adoption

Back in July, I wrote about adopting an open textbook for my summer course, and received lots of great feedback – and I think many of us are wanting to know what others are doing to adopt open content. I would love to hear about the experiences of other faculty, support staff and students asContinue Reading

Adopting an Open Textbook

This summer I adopted an open textbook for my course – LIS 4223/5223, Information Technology Management.  This is an elective course for graduates and required for undergraduates in the School of Library and Information Studies at OU.  I have taught this course many times before, and it was designed to be delivered online.  This summer the courseContinue Reading