Erik Christensen Selected as National Open Textbook Advocate
South Florida Community College physics professor, Erik Christensen, was recently selected as one of the top six nationwide Outstanding Open Textbook Advocate/Trainers by College Open Textbooks. He received the recognition for his use of open textbooks in his classes, advocating for their use in other classes, and peer-reviewing other open textbooks.
Open textbooks are non-published textbooks that are written by instructors and made available on repositories to download for free. The books can be modified by other instructors when needed to add additional information or explanations for their specific classes. Open textbooks can be printed out by college bookstore companies for a significantly reduced cost or can be downloaded for free on the Internet by students.
Christensen began using open textbooks after he found that one of his students could not afford to purchase the newest edition of a textbook and asked Christensen to loan an older version for the class. “Current physics textbooks cost an average of $200,” said Christensen. “The two open textbooks I use for my classes cost $4.50 and $8.50 in the SFCC Panther Bookstore.”
“I pay $500 per term for my textbooks,” said SFCC student Samantha Cochran. “I’m lucky my grants help cover the cost, or else I would not be able to afford them. By using open textbooks, Professor Christensen puts his students first and shows he’s willing to accept change and the future of technology.”
SFCC student Chris Jennings likes the textbooks not only for their low cost but for their adaptability as well. “Many times instructors will require a textbook but then will not use all of the book. With the open textbooks, instructors can edit out the information that won’t be covered, so students don’t feel like they are paying a lot of money for something they are not using.”
“Professor Christensen is a faculty leader and innovator,” said Kimberly Batty-Herbert, dean, SFCC Arts and Sciences. “He continually leads the way in assisting students in their learning. This is a significant cost reduction for students and in these tough economic times is an important factor for all of us in education to consider.”
“It’s nice to receive the recognition, but the real winners here are my students,” Christensen said, “as this has been able to reduce the cost of their textbook by 90 percent.”