FOREST GROVE — Pacific University Press is quietly fostering the open educational resources movement (OER), one that could very well reshape higher education.
Consistent with the university’s mission to advance scholarship and discovery, the Press recently published an open-access textbook available for free download and use by instructors and students everywhere, as well as a primer for academic librarians who wish to promote the use of OER on their campuses.
In October, the press published the first textbook in its three-year history, An Introduction to Technical Theatre, by Pacific professor and award-winning set designer Tal Sanders. Published under the Press’ Tualatin Books imprint, the book draws on Sanders’ extensive experience and is appropriate for both high school and college-level theatre courses.
A fixture in Portland’s theatre scene, Sanders has taught technical theatre for more than 30 years using some of the topic’s major textbooks. He wrote his text to provide a resource that could better address his own students’ specific needs.
“I wanted to create a text that covered the basics, including theatre terminology and general practices, but was not so in-depth as to overwhelm those who were studying technical theatre as an elective part of their education,” Sanders wrote in the book’s foreword.
The book is designed in a modular format to allow instructors to approach the subject matter at their own pace and within their own structure. In addition to being available for free through Pacific’s institutional repository, CommonKnowledge, a print version of the book is also available for purchase. As of Jan. 11, the publication has been downloaded more than 285 times.
In late-November, the Press published OER: A Field Guide for Academic Librarians, edited by Andrew Wesolek (Vanderbilt University), Anne Langley (University of Connecticut) and Jonathan Lashley (Boise State University), which provides examples of strategies for increasing the use of OER in college and university curriculum. Also available for free on CommonKnowledge, the book has been downloaded more than 1,500 times as of Jan. 11, and more than 100 copies of the print version have been purchased as well.
“As a means of making college more affordable and promoting access to educational content, many of us look to open educational resources as a catalyst for positive, tangible change,” the authors wrote in the book’s foreword. “These open teaching, learning, and research resources not only serve as alternatives to commercial educational products, they promote new relationships between academic communities and educational content.”
Pacific University Press was founded in 2015 as a service of the Pacific University Libraries to help advance the university’s mission of scholarship and discovery by creating opportunities for scholars of all backgrounds to share their work, Libraries Dean and Press director Isaac Gilman said. Most Press publications are free in digital format upon publication.
“While our commitment is strong to open access in general, I am especially excited to contribute to the OER movement with our latest publications,” Gilman said. “Providing faculty with high-quality open access options for required course texts is incredibly important to reducing the cost of education for students.”
An Introduction into Technical Theatre and OER: A Field Guide for Academic Librarians are the Press’ third and fourth publications to date, following When the Rewards Can Be So Great (Kwame Dawes, 2016) and Transformed: How Oregon’s Public Health University Won Independence and Healed Itself (William Graves, 2017).
Pacific University Press publishes under imprints that embody the university’s academic strengths in the liberal arts and sciences, healthcare, business, education, and creative writing. They are Pacific University Press, which include works considered to be traditional scholarly or academic texts; Tualatin Books, which include works specifically intended for a practitioner audience, with an emphasis on immediate application within the field of practice; and 1849 Editions, which include works of short fiction and poetry.
Pacific University is a small, but diverse learning community, where students thrive in a personal academic environment. Tracing its roots to 1849, when it was chartered as a school for orphans of the Oregon Trail, Pacific has long been devoted to making a difference in the world. Today, students study in a unique combination of undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in the liberal arts and sciences, business, education, health professions and optometry. Located in Oregon, Pacific serves a diverse population of more than 3,900 students, with campuses in Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Eugene and Woodburn. At Pacific University, students and faculty develop close, nurturing relationships that provide an extraordinary educational experience.