Open and Affordable Educational Resources

At Mason, we want to make your courses accessible to all students.  One way to do that is to reduce the costs of the textbooks and other educational materials you use—and University Libraries can help.

We offer support for reducing the cost of textbooks  and for making library-licensed e-content available to your students.  We’re also ready to help you discover, use or even develop and publish your own open educational resources.

So there are several ways to make educational resources affordable for your students:

  • Choose a standard textbook, put a physical copy on reserve, then let your students know how to access it.
  • Choose a textbook or articles where the library already offers free digital access.  Place the item on ‘e-reserve‘ and then link to the item on your Blackboard site or include a link in your syllabus.
  • Choose an existing Open Educational Resource (see Finding OERs below).
  • Work with us to develop and publish an OER for your course(s). Contact John Warren at jwarre13 at gmu.edu to get started.

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are freely-accessible teaching, educational, and research materials that either exist in the public domain or are available to users via an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing. These resources include complete online courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, assessment tools, and software. They provide people worldwide with access to quality education and the opportunity to share, use, and reuse knowledge.

Finding OERs

See the following selection of Open Educational Resources collections you may use, re-purpose, and distribute for your teaching and learning needs. You will also see entries to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for those who are interested in taking a full-blown, non-credit class on a subject or need particular lectures to boost their learning in a for-credit course. Learn more about how you can support the adoption and development of high-quality open courses and educational resources by visiting our section on grants and OER advocacy.

Course Content and Textbooks

Open Courses and MOOCs

Grants and Advocacy

K-12 Resources

Articles and Research on OERs

OER Part 1: Course Content and Textbooks

The following Open Educational Resources (OER) collections include course content and textbooks you may use, re-purpose, and distribute for your teaching and learning needs. Learn more about high-quality open courses, educational resources, and OER advocacy by checking out the rest of the series below:

Part 2: Open Courses and MOOCs | Part 3: Grants and Advocacy | Part 4: K-12 Resources | Part 5: Articles and Research

Return to OER overview

Continue Reading OER Part 1: Course Content and Textbooks

OER Part 2: Open Courses and MOOCs

The following Open Educational Resources (OER) collections include open courses and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that you can take to supplement your curriculum or simply explore new subjects. Learn more about high-quality open educational resources and OER advocacy by checking out the rest of the series below:

Part 1: Course Content and Textbooks | Part 3: Grants and Advocacy | Part 4: K-12 Resources | Part 5: Articles and Research

Return to OER overview

Continue Reading OER Part 2: Open Courses and MOOCs

Innovation and the Publishing Start-Up

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Choice magazine.

Note: Choice magazine’s annual University Press Forum offers the perspectives of University Press directors on a variety of topics. This year’s Forum—the 13th in the series—addresses the topic of Innovation at the University Press. Essays from eight University Press directors are included in this year’s Forum, including Bruce Austin, RIT Press; Courtney Burkholder, Texas Tech University Press; Faye Chadwell, Oregon State University Press; Steve Cohn, Duke University Press; Linda Manning, The University of Alabama Press; Gianna Mosser, Liz Hamilton, and Jane Bunker at Northwestern University Press; Mary Rose Muccie, Temple University Press; and yours truly.

John W. Warren
Head, Mason Publishing/George Mason University Press

Statue of George Mason at George Mason UniversityOne of the questions I frequently field, professionally speaking, is: “You’re starting a new university press? I thought many presses are closing.”

As with many, if not most, things these days, perception does not perfectly correlate with reality. Despite the fact scholarly publishing is undergoing a period of change, turmoil, and reinvention, relatively few presses are closing. Many academic institutions continue to see the value in supporting a press and most, if not all, presses do a fair job of breaking even, coming close to breakeven, or generating a modest surplus. Press closures, or attempted press closures, however, receive an exceptional amount of press coverage, social media activity, and activist response from scholars, publishers, and others involved in the scholarly ecosystem. The establishment of a new press, on the other hand, frequently goes unnoticed, for reasons that are understandable—it usually takes a while to make any kind of impact and gain attention.

Although precise numbers are hard to come by, two areas that have grown over the past decade in terms of new presses appear to be academic library publishing and scholarly publishers in developing countries. My institution, George Mason University, provides an example. The University Libraries had been involved in various publishing services for several years, including dissertations and thesis services, scholarly communications, open access journals, and an institutional repository. There had also been a separate effort to establish a university press in the mid-1980s, through a partnership with the University Press of America, formally an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield. Subsequently, an initiative was started in 2007, under the aegis of Mason’s College of Humanities and Social Science, which published a handful of regional titles. In 2014, the University Libraries established a formal publishing program incorporating both library publishing services, under the imprint of Mason Publishing, and the George Mason University Press, to support the creation, dissemination, and curation of scholarly, creative, and educational works.

Our approach to this new publishing venture is as a start-up. Even though we were not exactly starting from scratch, there was no “legacy” operation to be concerned with (nor, unfortunately, a vibrant backlist to fund publishing efforts). The framework of a start-up provides an opportunity to define (or redefine) the priorities, strategies, and tactics to pursue.

As in any start-up, several questions need to be addressed, including but not limited to the following:

  • What is our organization’s (library and university) vision/mission?
  • What are the interests, concerns, and expectations of our stakeholders (administration, staff, partners, funders, audience, etc.)?
  • How important is the pursuit of revenue/profit versus social good?
  • What opportunities exist for growth and innovation?
  • How can we add value and what contribution(s) do we want to make to the world?

As the start-up organization takes shape, it’s crucial to consider what the ideal composition and characteristics of the staff should be. For example, diversity is important and it should not just be “token” diversity. A certain amount of “deviance” can be a good thing, but the right balance is critical. It’s not important that everyone always agrees, but some people disagree with everything as a matter of practice. In a previous organization, a staff member routinely commented on every new idea: “I’ve tried that before and it doesn’t work.” The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but this may be someone you don’t want to work with day after day. Within organizational ethics, positive conformity leads to innovation, experimentation, a change in organizational product or processes, such as continuous improvement and not accepting “what we’ve always done around here.”

More specific questions relevant to a publishing start-up include the following:

  • What is the role and makeup of the advisory or editorial board?
  • What is the role of or focus on open access versus commercial sales?
  • What kind of books do we want to publish?
  • What kind of books do we not want to publish?
  • What other products will add value to our organization?

An important first step was to align our strategic priorities with those of George Mason University. This involved explicitly connecting our specific objectives and tactics with those of Mason’s 2014–2024 Strategic Plan, with the stated priorities and concerns of the University’s Provost, and with the University Libraries’ strategic plan. A few examples that have informed the objectives of our press include Mason’s strategic focus on innovative learning, access, and diversity; creating learning partnerships that emphasize innovation and collaboration; contributing to the cultural vitality of our community through regional partnerships; engaging students in research; supporting excellence in teaching and scholarship; focusing on multidisciplinary research; and elevating research of consequence.

Some of the ways these strategic goals translate into our publishing priorities include increasing the number of student and faculty led journals, particularly those focused on multidisciplinary research; providing increased training and editorial services to these journals; and leveraging our journals platform (Open Journals Systems) for conference proceedings and course use. For example, we approached Mason’s Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence, proposing a partnership to publish abstracts, presentations, and papers for the annual Innovations in Teaching and Learning Conference, none of which had previously been archived. We are working with an English Composition professor to utilize OJS for peer review of student work in her course, an application that is generating interest among other faculty. We have also reached out to the larger scholarly community by helping to host and publish the papers of the Open Scholarship Initiative conference, a global collaborative effort between all major stakeholders in scholarly publishing to improve the future of how research information gets published, shared, and accessed.

We sought to increase partnerships for faculty collaboration and opportunities for publishing student research by partnering with the Provost Office and Mason Online, Mason’s Office of Digital Learning, to promote the development and publishing of open educational resources (OERs) on campus. Our pilot project is focused on innovative course redesign that reconsiders the materials currently used with the intent purpose to integrate digital materials, with the aim of reducing the cost of instruction for students, improving teaching and learning outcomes, and increasing economic opportunities through open access to quality educational resources. While not a revenue opportunity, this effort adds value to the university by publishing faculty workbooks, open textbooks, and other publications that can be used as OERs both at Mason and beyond.

And yes, we are looking forward to publishing a few scholarly books this fall that will make meaningful contributions to their fields (and, I hope, begin to build a backlist). Another important goal of our press, and we are certainly not alone in this, is to consider and start planning digital opportunities from the very genesis of a new project—not as an afterthought. Meanwhile, we need to continue to seek additional sources of funding for Press projects—subventions, grants, donors, crowdsourcing—and develop a revenue stream that sustains a growing Press publishing program.

Longer term, we plan to implement a rich media journals publishing platform (i.e., Vega, in development at the University of West Virginia) that will support digital research and publications that include multimedia, data, and interactive aspects. Digital humanities are an established strength at Mason, and we aspire to support publication of this innovative research in its diverse forms. This approach underscores the importance of partnerships with other departments in the libraries and centers in the university. These include the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, innovative faculty in the English and Rhetoric department, faculty in game design, and others. Our staff is contributing to the development of a new digital scholarship center and a new scholarly production lab within the library.

Several principles help drive innovation and creativity, whether in a start-up or established organization. These include fostering an attitude of openness, of seeking diversity, of being open to criticism and not being afraid to make mistakes, looking for ideas everywhere, identifying hidden talents among staff, and instilling a drive to keep growing and learning. As important as trying new ideas is to jettison the ones that are not working or are no longer adding value to the organization.

It’s also important to ask yourself frequently, “What kind of leader am I? What kind of leader do I want to become?” I like to use the phrase “experiment with intent”—meaning it’s great to experiment and try new things, but have a reason for it, such as what you can learn from the experience, even if the results don’t turn out as well as you hope. Assign important projects to staff, establish stretch goals, deliver feedback that is relevant, review the results, debrief staff, and articulate the business or social implications.

Our quest is to redefine what it means to be a scholarly publisher, to find new ways to tell stories and connect with readers, and to make an impact on the future. As Henry David Thoreau said, “Be not simply good—be good for something.”

Mason Author Series with General Michael V. Hayden, May 4th

The University Libraries, Mason Publishing,
and the University Bookstore
present

General Michael V. Hayden

book cover for Playing to the EdgeDiscussing his book:  Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror

Thursday, May 4th
3:00-4:30 pm
Main Reading Room
Fenwick Library
Fairfax Campus

For General Michael Hayden, playing to the edge means playing so close to the line that you get chalk dust on your cleats. Otherwise, by playing back, you may protect yourself, but you will be less successful in protecting America. “Play to the edge” was Hayden’s guiding principle when he ran the National Security Agency, and it remained so when he ran the CIA.  In his view, many shortsighted and uninformed people are quick to criticize, and this book will give them much to chew on but little easy comfort; it is an unapologetic insider’s look told from the perspective of the people who faced awesome responsibilities head on, in the moment.

How did American intelligence respond to terrorism, a major war and the most sweeping technological revolution in the last 500 years?  What was the NSA before 9/11 and how did it change in its aftermath?  Why did the NSA begin the controversial terrorist surveillance program that included the acquisition of domestic phone records? What else was set in motion during this period that formed the backdrop for the infamous Snowden revelations in 2013?

For 10 years,  then, General Michael Hayden was a participant in some of the most telling events in the annals of American national security. General Hayden’s goals are in writing this book are simple and unwavering: No apologies. No excuses. Just what happened. And why. As he writes, “There is a story here that deserves to be told, without varnish and without spin. My view is my view, and others will certainly have different perspectives, but this view deserves to be told to create as complete a history as possible of these turbulent times. I bear no grudges, or at least not many, but I do want this to be a straightforward and readable history for that slice of the American population who depend on and appreciate intelligence, but who do not have the time to master its many obscure characteristics.”

 

portrait of Michael V. HaydenGeneral and Distinguished Visiting Professor Michael Hayden is a retired four-star general who served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency — the only person to helm both agencies— during a time of heinous new threats and wrenching change. In addition to leading CIA and NSA, General Hayden was the country’s first principal deputy director of national intelligence and the highest-ranking military intelligence officer in the country.  He also served as commander of the Air Intelligence Agency and Director of the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center and served in senior staff positions at the Pentagon, at U.S. European Command, at the National Security Council, and the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria. He was also the deputy chief of staff for the United Nations Command and U.S. Forces in South Korea. He is currently a principal at the Chertoff Group and a distinguished visiting professor at the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government.

Refreshments will be provided.

The Mason Author Series is sponsored by the University Bookstore.

Jennifer Ritterhouse book launch in Mason Author Series, April 26th

The University Libraries, Mason Publishing,
and the University Bookstore
present

Jennifer Ritterhouse

In a discussion of her new book:  Discovering the South: One Man’s Travels Through a Changing America in the 1930s

Wednesday, April 26
3:00-4:30 pm
Main Reading Room
Fenwick Library
Fairfax Campus

Discovering the South- CoverDuring the Great Depression, the American South was not merely “the nation’s number one economic problem,” as President Franklin Roosevelt declared. It was also a battlefield on which forces for and against social change were starting to form. For a white southern liberal like Jonathan Daniels, editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, it was a fascinating moment to explore. Attuned to culture as well as politics, Daniels knew the true South lay somewhere between Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. On May 5, 1937, he set out to find it, driving thousands of miles in his trusty Plymouth and ultimately interviewing even Mitchell herself.

In Discovering the South, historian Jennifer Ritterhouse pieces together Daniels’s unpublished notes from his tour along with his published writings and a wealth of archival evidence to put this one man’s journey through a South in transition into a larger context. Daniels’s well chosen itinerary brought him face to face with the full range of political and cultural possibilities in the South of the 1930s, from New Deal liberalism and social planning in the Tennessee Valley Authority, to Communist agitation in the Scottsboro case, to planters’ and industrialists’ reactionary worldview and repressive violence. The result is a lively narrative of black and white southerners fighting for and against democratic social change at the start of the nation’s long civil rights era.

See also the author’s website for the project.

Jennifer Ritterhouse

Jennifer Ritterhouse is associate professor of history at George Mason University. She is the author of Growing Up Jim Crow: How Black and White Southern Children Learned Race and several articles; editor of a reprint edition of Sarah Patton Boyle’s autobiography, The Desegregated Heart: A Virginian’s Stand in Time of Transition; and co-editor of Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South. She teaches classes on the 20th-century US, the South, cultural history, and research methods.

Refreshments will be provided.

The Mason Author Series is sponsored by the University Bookstore.

Mason Author Series: with Helon Habila

The University Libraries, Mason Publishing,
and the University Bookstore
in conjunction with the New Leaves Festival

present

Author Helon HabilaHelon Habila

In a reading and booksigning of The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria

Wednesday, April 5
7:30-9:00 pm
Main Reading Room
Fenwick Library
Fairfax Campus

George Mason University’s Associate Professor of Creative Writing Helon Habila offers a compassionate and powerful account of one of the most horrific recent tragedies to occur in Nigeria: the kidnapping of 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in April 2014 by Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest terrorist group whose name translated into English means “western education is abhorrent.” Habila, a native of Nigeria, traveled to the country twice to track down some of the escaped girls and their families and reconstruct what happened on that fateful day and how the town is coping. He situates the kidnappings within the political and historical context of the rise of Islamist extremism in Nigeria, which is deeply rooted in its tragic history of colonialism.

Cover image of Chibok Girls“A dispatch from the front lines, as Habila travels to the town of Chibok, where the landscape is riddled with burned tanks and bullet holes, and vigilantes pick up the slack for the inadequate and ineffectual military….Habila incorporates vital background knowledge on the situation in Chibok and the surrounding area; as a poet, he adds sensitivity and eloquence, capturing the raw emotion of the wounded town.”
~ Publishers Weekly

Helon Habila grew up in Nigeria and is the author of three novels, Oil on Water, Measuring Time, and Waiting for an Angel. His fiction, poems and short stories have won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel (Africa Section), the Virginia Library Foundation’s Fiction Award, and the Windham-Campbell Prize. Oil on Water was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the Orion Book Award, and the PEN/Open Book Award. He is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University.

 

Refreshments will be provided.

The Mason Author Series is sponsored by the University Bookstore.

Seeking a talented digital publishing professional

Mason Publishing/George Mason University Press is growing, and we have an open position for a talented digital publishing professional. Consider applying, or forward this announcement to your friends and colleagues who may have appropriate experience in digital publishing, web technologies, graphic design, and production.

Apply at: https://jobs.gmu.edu/postings/39740

Digital Publishing Lead (Search Reopened)

George Mason University’s Mason Publishing Group, within the University Libraries, seeks an experienced professional responsible for the management of digital publishing platforms and tools. This position reports to the Head, Mason Publishing Group. George Mason University has a strong institutional commitment to the achievement of excellence and diversity among its faculty and staff, and strongly encourages candidates to apply who will enrich Mason’s academic and culturally inclusive environment.

The Mason Publishing Group (http://publishing.gmu.edu/) unites the George Mason University Library’s digital publishing activity with the George Mason University Press to form a set of publishing services for the university.

Responsibilities:

The successful candidate will:

Focus on use of platforms to publish digital content, including e-journal and e-book hosting platforms such as OJS, PressBooks, and others, by providing project management and user support;
Manage the daily operations of the university’s institutional repository—Mason Archival Repository Service (MARS);
Work closely with our metadata services group to insure consistent metadata across all digital platforms;
Provide support and training for the Library’s new Research Commons, which includes a Digital Scholarship Center;
Provide support for digital publishing projects and platforms;
Consult with students, faculty and researchers who want to publish e-content; and
Maintain and enhance Mason Publishing’s web presence.

Required Qualifications:

Graduate degree in relevant discipline, such as ALA-accredited masters in library or information science, masters in publishing, and/or other advanced or terminal degree;
Demonstrated success managing and/or developing digital publications and collections within a library, publisher, or knowledge institution;
Outstanding analytical, organizational, project, and time management skills and ability to simultaneously lead multiple projects;
Ability to set priorities, meet deadlines, and complete tasks and projects on time and within budget by leveraging demonstrated creative and innovative problem-solving skills;
Ability to document relevant policies, procedures, and local standards;
Ability to build collaborative and mutually beneficial working relationships with people of varying backgrounds; and
Should be familiar with a range of web-based technologies and possess demonstrable expertise in at least one of the following: XML, XSLT, a scripting language (e.g., Python, PERL, Ruby) or CSS3.

Preferred Qualifications:

Two to four years of professional experience in digital publishing initiatives, digital collections, or digital repositories;
Experience working with digital publishing or institutional repository platform/software (e.g., Fedora, DSpace, Eprints, Digital Commons. OJS, PressBooks);
Knowledge of current metadata standards and understanding of metadata principles and practices;
Facility with the Adobe Creative Suite, particularly In-Design (CS5 or later) a plus; and
Knowledge of new scholarly publishing models.

Apply at: https://jobs.gmu.edu/postings/39740

George Mason University has a strong institutional commitment to the achievement of excellence and diversity among its faculty and staff, and strongly encourages candidates to apply who will enrich Mason’s academic and culturally inclusive environment.

Student Senate Support for the Open Textbook Initiative at George Mason University

The University Libraries is excited to report that the Student Government Senate has issued a resolution in support of open textbook adoption at Mason. This resolution encourages faculty to consider replacing expensive textbooks with open access materials and is a huge step on the path toward making college more affordable to Mason students.

What is an open textbook? It is a freely available digital book to which the author(s) has assigned a license permitting others, such as instructors, to use and adapt the content to suit their specific course learning objectives. That is, instructors can download, modify, remix, and share the item at no cost to themselves, their students, or their colleagues.

What do open textbooks offer students? Course material that is relevant, up to date, and varied in format, as well as accessible to all students as soon as a course begins. Concerns about the cost of pursuing a particular degree are diminished when textbook costs become immaterial. Not least of all, money that would have been spent on textbooks becomes available to help pay for rent, food, transportation, or even another course,.

What do open textbooks offer faculty? Some powerful incentives are:

  • the option to tailor course material selections to fit personal pedagogy,
  • the opportunity to work collaboratively with other disciplinary experts to select or create content that may be used and modified by colleagues around the globe, and
  • the ability to support students in a way that is deeply meaningful and purposeful, both inside and outside of the classroom.

The University Libraries invites your queries, discussion, and concerns about open textbooks. We are available to help you find these textbooks and other openly licensed materials to work with and integrate into your course(s). We are also experts in subscription content that may be appropriate for your course needs.

Please contact John Warren in the Mason Publishing Group about the open textbook initiative when curiosity overcomes you or you need assistance with existing open projects. As the expert in research materials specific to your discipline (both open and proprietary), your Subject Librarian is also available for consultation and assistance.

Mason Author Series: Digital Destiny with Dr. Shawn DuBravac

The George Mason University Libraries and the University Bookstore, present the Mason Author Series, in association with Mason Alumni Week
Digital Destiny with Dr. Shawn DuBravac

Thursday, October 13, 2016
7:00-8:15 pm
Main Reading Room (2nd floor), Fenwick Library, Fairfax Campus

RSVP

George Mason University alumni aDigital Destiny book, ISBN 9781621573739uthor Dr. Shawn DuBravac (MA ’04, PhD ’14), chief economist for the Consumer Technology Association, will speak about his book Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate. This New York Times bestseller explores how the world’s mass adoption of digital technologies portends the beginning of a new era for humanity in the realms of economics, health, travel and culture. In Digital Destiny, DuBravac provides examples of how the next decade will be defined by an all-digital lifestyle and the “Internet of Everything” – where everything, from the dishwasher to the wristwatch, is not only online, but acquiring, analyzing, and utilizing the data that surrounds us. And even as digital mechanisms take up more and more of our lives, individuals will have more freedom in action, work, health, and pursuits than ever before.

In his role as CTA’s chief economist, DuBravac provides crucial economic analysis to association and industry leaders regarding future economic activity and the relative health of the technology industry. He has been widely published on the topics of finance, economics and technology, and his keen insights have made him a highly sought-after speaker and commentator. In 2012, DuBravac was named to Dealerscope’s “40 under 40” list of people to watch in the consumer technology industry. His analysis has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, Barron’s and on CNN, MSNBC and other media outlets.

George Mason University alumni author Shawn DuBravac
George Mason University alumni author Shawn DuBravac

DuBravac has taught as an adjunct professor for George Washington University’s MBA program and at University of Mary Washington and for George Mason University’s MBA program. Prior to joining CTA, DuBravac was head research analyst in the Economic Analysis Group of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division He holds economic degrees from Brigham Young University and George Mason University.

DuBravac shares many of his insights and ideas on Twitter at @shawndubravac.

Please RSVP at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mason-author-series-digital-destiny-with-shawn-dubravac-tickets-28003285581

Refreshments will be provided.

The Mason Author Series is sponsored by the University Bookstore.