Math professors save students money

Dr. Chris Carlson and Dr. Preston Kiekel with the open source math texts they have adopted. Math open textbooks

Math professors Dr. Chris Carlson and Dr. Preston Kiekel are on a mission to save students money.

By using free and low cost textbooks for their classes, they are offering students a way to offset tuition costs.

Dr. Carlson said students can expect to pay up to $150-200 for traditional pre-calculus and calculus textbooks. The two professors want to reduce or even eliminate these costs by using online materials (usually .pdf versions that can be viewed digitally for free or printed out for a minimal cost) or books that can be purchased for less than $25.

“We want to save students money without sacrificing quality.”

Assisted by Open Education Librarian Leah Hannaford, Dr. Carlson adopted an open source textbook for his pre-calculus class. The textbook allows instructors to modify it for their particular teaching style. Dr. Carlson has found it necessary to add information and rewrite the language to make the lessons more usable in his classroom.

Dr. Kiekel is currently using an Open Education Mini-grant, funded by the same source as Dr. Carlson’s grant, to adapt an open source textbook for his Math in Society class. He has already adopted an open source statistics text and is adapting it on an ongoing basis.

In addition to textbooks, the two math professors have also discovered and implemented free education software that allows students to access videos and lectures and to interact on homework problems.

Hunting for suitable open source materials and adapting individual lessons and assignments take an incredible investment of time. But after the initial work is done, Dr. Carlson and Dr. Kiekel both agree “it’s worth it.”

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