A biology professor has turned his class resources into "freesources" by making the shift to open education
Author: Matthew Cook
Cover of Elaine Marieb and Katja Hoehn’s textbook Human Anatomy & Physiology

Higher education students taking a biology course that uses Elaine Marieb and Katja Hoehn’s textbook Human Anatomy & Physiology (11th edition), could spend upwards of $200 on the hardcover version.

A University of Rochester student taking BIO 204 with Jonathan Holz, associate professor of instruction in the Department of Biology, will spend $0 on their textbook. 

That’s because Holz is using an Open Stax textbook.

With the help of River Campus Libraries science and engineering outreach librarian Moriana Garcia, Holz made the shift to open educational resources (OER)—printed or digital materials that can be used by anyone without concern for copyrights or licensing. 

As of the beginning of the 2019 fall semester, BIO 204 was fully OER-enabled.

Holz and Garcia discussed the transition to OER in a conversation with Kimberly Hoffman, head of Outreach, Learning, and Research Services. 

“Students will be able to access this textbook without cost to them,” says Holz. “To me, that’s the most important element—the availability to the students and being able to use this resource to improve their outcomes.” 

Beyond the cost savings, which unsurprisingly, is a big hit with students, 85% reported they’re more likely to use the text. There was also a consensus that the quality of the textbook was as good if not better than traditional biology textbooks.

“Participating in the entire process has given me the opportunity to understand, in-depth, the content of the course,” says Garcia, who acquired multi-user materials to supplement the textbook. “I’ve also had the chance to help students learn more about copyright.”

To hear more about Holz’s and Garcia’s experience moving to an open textbook, watch the interview below. 


For questions about this textbook or OER, contact Moriana Garcia or explore the Open Scholarship LibGuide. Enjoy reading about the University of Rochester Libraries? Subscribe to Tower Talk.