Projects Underway

Open SUNY Textbooks Renewal

Cyril Oberlander

Project Team
  • Charles Lyons, University at Buffalo

Geneseo, State University College at


Tier Three

Project Abstract:

This renewal IITG grant proposal proposes to expand the successful 2012 IITG SUNY Open Textbooks pilot program by:

A. Expanding the number of open textbooks published, participating libraries, and invite CIT participation.
B. Focusing on development of textbooks that serve widely enrolled SUNY general education courses.

This renewal grant allows us to refine the open textbook authoring and publishing program after lessons learned from the first round and add new participating institutions, including SUNY Oswego and Monroe Community College Educational Technical Services. The Open SUNY Textbook Renewal project is well positioned to fulfill some of the goals identified by the Chancellor’s Online Education Advisory Team in the December 2012 interim report, specifically; Goal 4 Scale up innovation and research of online environments and Goal 6 Reduce the cost barriers to education and research through economies of scale by adopting and producing Open Educational Resources, Open Access Journals, Open E-Textbooks, and Open Courseware.

The advantage of expanding the Open SUNY Textbook project with new deliverables includes:
• Encouraging a successful innovative and collaborative pilot that will publish 15 Open SUNY Textbooks - delivering 3 times more than expected and lowering costs of higher education to students.
• Fostering the maturity of an innovative collaboration between SUNY Faculty authors/reviewers, libraries, IT, and SUNY Press.
• Providing content that scales with developing models of education, in particular, Open SUNY and the addition of some 100,000 online students in SUNY requires new content models to be economically viable for students and SUNY.
Expanding the Open SUNY Textbook program will involve more participants (authors, reviewers, libraries, IT, SUNY Press and others) and will produce more textbooks. The Open SUNY Textbook program will be submitting three innovation grant proposals, this one a renewal to build upon the first program; the other two specifically focusing on developing interactive textbooks and developing a means to verify and incentivize adopting open textbooks.

Expanding Open Textbook Production Capacity and Community
The overall goal of renewing the Open SUNY Textbook program is to dramatically expand the scale of production of open textbooks that lower the cost to students, increase adoption of open textbooks, and increase the capacity of libraries to support and sustain the program and to expand the production to include interactive textbooks.

Adapting the existing Open SUNY Textbook program from what we are learning from the first program, the goal of this renewal project is to increase the existing team that serves as the collaborative publishing partnership for SUNY Open Textbooks, current partnership includes;
• Libraries participating in the call for proposals to faculty and coordinating publishing program: SUNY Geneseo, College at Brockport Library, University of Buffalo Libraries, Upstate Medical Library, Environmental Science & Forestry Library. Fredonia, Oswego, Monroe Community College, and others. Others will be invited before the call for authors and during the review process.
• SUNY CIT and others will be invited to participate in the development of textbooks that are Learning Management System compatible. Monroe Community College Educational Technology Services is participating.
• SUNY Press - Donna Dixon, Co-Director and Dan Flynn, A.D., Revenue & Business Operations, will be engaged in meetings as consultants.

Invited participation;
• SUNY Faculty - invite using a revised Call for Open Textbooks Authors
• SUNY Distinguished Service Professors - invite to serve as Authors and Reviewers
• SUNY Departments will be encouraged to propose collaborative development of core or general education textbooks.

Two calls for proposals will be devised, one is a strategic targeting of general education courses, and the second is a general call similar to last year’s.

A. Strategic Targeting of General Education Open Textbooks for Open SUNY: $38,000
Primary goal is to develop 7 open textbooks in areas that offer a significant cost savings to SUNY students, showcase the Power of SUNY authors to produce high-quality textbooks, and expand the 2012/2013 Open SUNY Textbook program. $38,000 will provide funding incentives to author proposals that are approved based on established criteria and review by the editorial team. For example; seven awards of $5,000 to a team of authors (2-more), with the remaining $3,000 going towards peer reviewers at $300/review (10 reviews possible).
1. Gather and analyze data on SUNY courses across SUNY to determine a proposal criteria looking at the number of students enrolled in courses SUNY wide by CIP codes, for example, if we look at possible impact of over 70,000 students, we would see English Language & Literature for (Associates + Baccalaureates) = 87,681 students, and Psychology, General (Associates + Baccalaureates) = 71,679 students.
2. Develop criteria and indicators to target producing Open SUNY Textbooks; may include # students in lower level courses, overall cost to students, # of online SUNY students, modular flexibility, and other critical factors will be incorporated into a strategic call for authors.
3. Deliver a call for proposal that targets areas that have a significant impact on teaching and learning across SUNY. To ensure this textbook is easy to adopt and adapt for others, the Call for Authors will include a criteria for the development of the instructor’s version which should include lecture notes and/or PowerPoint slides.
B. Second round of Call for Authors for Open SUNY Textbooks: $18,400
Very similar to the Call for Authors in 2012/2013, this will be to develop 8 open textbooks without a specific target discipline. This process helps expand the program participation, develop publishing skills and a community of libraries and CIT that support the development of open textbooks and open educational resources for Open SUNY. $18,000 will provide incentives to author proposals that are approved based on established criteria and review by the editorial team. For example; 8 awards of $2,000 to authors, with the remaining $2,400 going towards reviewers, at $300/review.

C. Instructional Design, Copy Editing, Graphic Design consulting fees: $3,600
Remaining funds will provide additional support services as needed. In the 2012/2013 pilot, we discovered that some specialized copy editing at $4/page, graphic design at $50/hour, and instructional design at $50/hour is highly desired to produce high-quality open textbooks.

Replication and sustainability among SUNY:
• Program design documents will be provided to the SUNY Learning Commons, so that other SUNY institutions can develop or adapt this kind of publishing and instruction program.
• Pilot partners will have the opportunity to further develop the publishing initiative, and perhaps include other types of publications.
• During implementation, an Open Monograph Press and a copy editing webinar will be provided to participating institutions, with an open invitation sent to non-participating SUNY institutions.
• All materials will also be made available on the Open Monograph Press platform that is used to support the Open SUNY Textbooks, available at:
• At the conclusion of this project and evaluation of the program outcomes and cost/benefit will be provided to SUNY, SUNY Faculty, SUNY Library Directors and others in order to determine long-term sustainability of the program, and to provide an opportunity for feedback.

For additional information about the Open SUNY Textbook initiative or see a recent front page coverage was published in the Democrat & Chronicle:

Project Outcome:

Open SUNY Textbook project site can be accessed here.