New Open Courseware Released

Posted November 13th, 2014 in Faculty, Graduates, Staff, stories, Undergraduates by Micah Jenkins

On October 31, 2014, Dr. Autar Kaw, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida, simultaneously released all of the resources needed to complete the online, university level course “Introduction to Matrix Algebra.” As an OpenCourseWare (OCW), the course is free and open to all users.

The courseware includes:

  • 150 YouTube video lectures (approximately 14 viewing hours) with transcripts
  • 10 textbook chapters, presented in both PDF and DOC formats
  • 10 online multiple-choice quizzes with complete solutions
  • 10 problem sets
  • 10 PowerPoint presentations
  • 6 applied problems in engineering and science

and covers the following topics:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Vectors
  • Chapter 3: Binary Matrix Operations
  • Chapter 4: Unary Matrix Operations
  • Chapter 5: System of Equations
  • Chapter 6: Gaussian Elimination Method
  • Chapter 7: LU Decomposition
  • Chapter 8: Gauss-Seidel Method
  • Chapter 9: Adequacy of Solutions
  • Chapter 10: Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors

Introduction to Matrix Algebra is not the first OCW delivered by Kaw.  It follows the 2009 release of the OCW titled “Holistic Numerical Methods,” which receives more than a million page views annually.  The associated YouTube lectures received more than 900,000 views last year, and the “Numerical Methods Guy” blog now receives 150,000 annual visitors.

Kaw, along with his colleagues from around the nation, have been developing, implementing, refining and assessing these online resources since 2002.  They are funded in part by the National Science Foundation, and, to date, have received four NSF grants totaling more than $1.5 million.

For questions or more information, please contact Dr. Autar Kaw.

Seeking Proposals for Open Access Pilot

Posted November 5th, 2014 in Faculty, stories by Micah Jenkins

USF Innovative Education (InEd) and the USF Libraries are partnering to implement a pilot program that encourages the development of open access e-textbooks at the University of South Florida and seek proposals for their development by USF faculty members. Open access e-textbooks are digital in format and made freely available over the web in an effort to support creativity and innovation around the world. InEd and the Libraries are committed to publishing open access e-textbooks in order to support students from the perspective of both e-textbook affordability and the enhanced learning opportunities provided by the digital format.

A USF faculty member must be the lead author on the proposed e-textbook. The manuscript selected for consideration will undergo peer review and will be reviewed at its completion by the USF Open Access E-textbook Committee. The e-textbook may include original multi-media and interactive content. Technical support for the development of these features will be provided to the author(s) by InEd. InEd will also provide oversight during the process leading to the completion of the e-textbook. The USF Libraries will be responsible for hosting and archiving USF’s open access e-textbooks, delivering the e-textbooks in multiple formats (PDF, HTML, ePub, iBook), support for the peer review process, and ISBN.

The e-textbook should be a comprehensive work geared toward a specific field of study. Preference will be given to proposals with applicability toward multiple, high-enrollment, and online undergraduate courses. Copyright will be held by the USF author(s) and will be published under a Creative Commons (creativecommons.org) license.

The author will be compensated with an award of $12,500, plus an additional $7,500 which could be used for such purposes as course buy-out, research support, and production services. An itemized budget breakdown for the $7,500 will be required with the application. Applications will be reviewed by the USF Open Access E-textbook Committee. Awards will be based on the quality and strength of application and how well it meets the requirements. For funded proposals, it is our intention to distribute a portion of the award in the spring 2015 semester and the remaining funds after completion of the project. The author agrees to revise as needed during peer-review and to complete 100% of the e-textbook by July 31, 2015.

The Call for Proposals will be distributed on October 10, 2014 and proposals are due November 10, 2014.  Selected authors will be notified by November 30, 2014.  Anticipated e-textbook is to be completed by the last day of class, summer session 2015. The e-textbook must be available for fall, 2015.

To help us evaluate your project, we need to know more about you and your book. Please submit a proposal that provides necessary information by completing the form below:

Proposal Submission Form

 

Send proposal and C.V./resume for each author as email attachments to:

Cynthia DeLuca, AVP Innovative Education, deluca@usf.edu

The “Somebody Else’s Money” Problem: NPR Explores the Rise in College Textbook Prices

Posted October 13th, 2014 in News by Micah Jenkins

David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein of NPR’s Planet Money assert that the rising cost of textbooks can, in part, be attributed to one simple economic tenet: the “principal-agent problem,” or as Kestenbaum and Goldstein jokingly refer to it, “the somebody else’s money problem.”

The principal-agent problem is most simply described as a conflict of interest that arises when the person who decides to buy something (the agent) isn’t the person who has to pay for it (the principal). Within the context of textbook adoptions, students are the principals, tacitly agreeing to let their professors choose course materials on their behalf. College professors act as the agents, and make the final decision regarding which textbooks will be required for their courses. The conflict arises when sales representatives from publishing companies present their textbooks to professors for adoption. They expand on the expensive extra features and attributes of the textbooks they are trying to sell and never mention the price of the items. Professors never think to ask about the price because it is the students who ultimately have to bear the burden of the cost.

Other factors contributing to the high cost of textbooks include a growing used textbook market, textbook rental options, the availability of illegal textbook downloads, and students choosing not to purchase the textbook at all. This creates a cyclical problem wherein students continue to find creative ways to avoid buying textbooks, and publishers continue to raise their prices to recover profit losses.

In an effort to maintain control of the textbook market, and offer cheaper solutions for students, some publishers are moving towards the production of E-textbooks. However, E-textbooks do not pose a perfect solution for students because there is no used market for them, and they cannot be resold.

If you would like to listen to the full story, visit:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/10/03/353300404/episode-573-why-textbook-prices-keep-climbing

Florida Senate Rejects House Bill on Textbook Affordability

Posted June 19th, 2014 in News by Alexander

House Bill 355—previously passed by the Florida House of Representatives—was struck down on May 2nd by the Florida Senate’s Education Committee. The bill promised to reduce textbook prices for Florida colleges and universities and would have held the State Board of Education and the Board of Governors accountable for the adoption of textbook instructional materials, affordability policies, procedures, and guidelines. In addition, it aimed to create a task force to investigate textbook affordability issues.

The reason for the bill’s rejection is uncertain; however, students have been commenting on the issue and voicing their concerns on social networks. Several comments include information and tips that would help fellow students afford textbooks for the upcoming fall semester.

  • “Don’t tell me you’ll give me $2 for a book in perfect condition, bought new, that was used once.”
  • “I understand that there is content professors want that is not in the books, but they could provide that information separate in a PowerPoint or PDF file.”
  • “I would love if my textbooks DIDN’T cost more than a credit hour.”

If you would like to read the full article with quotes from students, visit:
http://www.centralfloridafuture.com/news/view.php/706951/Florida-Senate-shoots-down-textbook-affo

Student PIRGs Releases Policy Guide on Textbook Affodability Issues

Posted June 6th, 2014 in News by Alexander

The Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) website recently published a new policy guide on textbook affordability issues. Their intention is to provide leaders and decision-making authorities – from institutions to state legislators – with informed policies concerning open access textbooks and other approaches for affordable textbooks. The guide provides textbook affordability background information, open access textbook policy solutions, a list of key audiences and suggestions to address their concerns, a checklist of components necessary to create good policies, and sample policies and programs.

If you would like to view the policy guide , please visit:
http://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/POLICY%20GUIDE%20-%20Affordable%20Textbooks.pdf