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UNG receives $40,000 in textbook transformation grants from USG

Grant will help lower the cost of text books for hundreds of UNG students.

The University of North Georgia (UNG) received two new grant awards from the University System of Georgia’s (USG) Affordable Learning Grant (ALG) Program, which focuses on reducing the costs of college textbooks for students and the enhancement of GALILEO, Georgia's virtual library and ALG's parent initiative. 

Both awards were issued to projects led by faculty members Dr. Ching-Yu Huang and Dr. Larry Gibson in UNG's Department of Biology.

Huang, biology lecturer, in collaboration with other biology faculty Dr. Janice Crook-Hill and Hugo Collantes, James Wilkison, instructional designer in distance education & technology integration (DETI),  Enes Aganovic, coordinator of technology in DETI, and Terri Bell, senior library assistant and copyright specialist, will develop an introductory ecology textbook with additional learning and teaching resources that are accessible and free to students and UNG faculty.

"We hope this no cost e-textbook along with supplemental interactive activities will provide an opportunity for our students to expand their access to knowledge in ecology anytime and anywhere, as well as to facilitate students’ engagement in learning beyond the classroom," said Huang.

"The goal of this project is to implement this free e-textbook for the Introduction to Ecology course to non-science major students on four campuses in fall 2017," said Huang.

An estimated 840 students will benefit from Huang’s textbook grant with a free introductory ecology textbook and a total student savings is estimated to be $184,057 per academic year.

The required text for the introductory course varies — UNG's Gainesville and Oconee campuses use "Campbell Biology: Concepts & Connections," which sells for $231, and the Dahlonega and Cumming campuses use "Ecology: The Economy of Nature," priced at $179. 

For the 648 students on the Gainesville and Oconee campuses the total savings would be nearly$150,000 and the 192 students from the Cumming and Dahlonega campuses would save about $35,000 totaling an estimated $185,000 in savings per academic year.

Gibson, biology lecturer, collaborated with Valerie Fambrough, program specialist for the biology department, on their grant project for anatomy and physiology books.

Anatomy & Physiology I and II are two of the largest courses in the biology department at UNG – 1,500 to 1,700 students take these courses every academic year.

Gibson and Fambrough intend to eliminate the use of the existing high-cost commercial textbook with the free online version of an anatomy & physiology textbook.

"We often get comments from students that the cost of the required materials for these courses cause a significant financial burden. Sometimes students will choose to not purchase the required course materials at all, especially the textbook, which puts them at a disadvantage compared to those who do buy the text," said Gibson.

Because of the $10,800 grant, a projected 192 students will receive digital textbooks. The projected savings per student is $285, saving a total of $54,831.

"An additional goal of the project is to offer to other UNG anatomy & physiology faculty evidence of the equal quality and learning efficacy of the free textbook as compared to the  traditional commercial textbook," said Gibson. "If successful, the department will adopt the free digital text and help an additional 1,508 UNG students per year to save $430,654."


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