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Iowa Colleges Expand Collaboration with OTN Membership

In a continuing effort to make higher education more affordable, 40 Iowa colleges and universities have combined for a joint membership with the Open Textbook Network (OTN), a consortium of colleges and universities working to advance open textbook initiatives.

OTN, which has 120 members encompassing over 1,100 campuses, provides institutions access to a repository of training materials and national experts to assist in identifying high quality, free alternatives to traditional textbooks. The partnership will also provide access to future training and faculty development opportunities to expand the use of open education resources in Iowa.

“Providing a high-quality, affordable education is one of the primary missions of Iowa’s public universities,” said Dr. Rachel Boon, Chief Academic Officer for the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. “Working with the Open Textbook Network and our postsecondary partners across Iowa ensures faculty have access to resources needed to maximize learning and minimize financial burden on students.”

OTN also supports the Open Textbook Library, a searchable online catalog of textbooks. These books can be downloaded at no cost, or printed at low cost.  All textbooks are either used at multiple higher education institutions, or affiliated with an institution, scholarly society, or professional organization. The library of more than 700 textbooks can be adapted to best meet the needs of individual courses, and additional books are being added regularly.

This partnership is due in great part to the efforts of the Iowa Open Educational Resources Action Team (Iowa OER). Formed in 2018, Iowa OER works to support affordability of higher education for students across the state of Iowa. Iowa OER currently has higher education membership from Iowa’s Regent universities, community colleges, and private colleges, in addition to the Iowa Department of Education, and other education partners. 

“The cost of books and supplies can be a roadblock to higher education, particularly for community college students,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “Access to free, high-quality teaching, learning, and research resources will open doors for more students to access and complete the education and training needed for in-demand careers.” 

Prior to this expanded partnership, the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa and St. Ambrose were already individual members of the OTN. This expanded consortium includes those four institutions; all 15 of Iowa’s community colleges; as well as Drake, Grinnell, Briar Cliff, Buena Vista, Central, Clarke, Cornell, Divine Word, Dordt, Graceland, Grand View, Iowa Wesleyan, Loras, Luther, Maharishi, Mercy College of Health Sciences, Mount Mercy, Northwestern, Simpson, Upper Iowa, and William Penn. The private college and university participation is coordinated by the Iowa Academic Library Alliance.