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Idaho State University Libraries Announce 2021 Textbook Heroes

by Unknown User on 2021-11-15T11:06:00-07:00 | Comments

A superhero figure on a gray background holds up a book containing the word "boom!" The text says Thank you! 2021 Textbook HeroesUniversity Libraries recognize five faculty members as ISU Textbook Heroes for their affordability work.

Research shows that the cost of educational materials can have a significant impact on student success. In a 2018 survey of Florida students, around 20% said they had dropped, withdrawn from, or even failed a course because they couldn’t afford to purchase the textbook.  

The open educational resources movement has formed in response to the high cost of course materials: open educational resources (OER) are free or low-cost learning materials that are used and shared under an open license. 

To express gratitude and appreciation for those working to make course materials more affordable at ISU, University Libraries honors them as “Textbook Heroes.” These are members of the ISU community who have promoted or adopted low-cost or free course materials including OER, showing an outstanding commitment to student success.  

Idaho State University Libraries are pleased to announce our 2021 Textbook Heroes:

  • John Curry (Organizational Learning and Performance)
  • Todd Morris (Chemistry)
  • Elizabeth Schniedewind (Sign Language Interpreting)
  • Jeremy Thomas (Sociology)
  • Mary Van Donsel (Communication Sciences and Disorders)

This year’s Textbook Heroes shared their thoughts on their affordability work, and notable excerpts are below:

"Over a decade ago I decided that I could no longer justify the cost of textbooks or course materials for my students. I decided then that I would take whatever time needed to either find available OER resources or create my own resources for my classes.” - John Curry, Organizational Learning and Performance

“Consistent with the extensive published literature, I have found no differences between the success rate of my students with a free textbook vs. a traditional, costly textbook. Although I have no control over tuition rates and other assorted fees, I can ensure that my courses have minimal ancillary costs and remain good values for my students by adopting low-cost or free course resources.” - Todd Morris, Chemistry

"I have committed to minimizing textbook expenses to students without sacrificing quality of instruction. I have found materials that are less expensive and of similar quality where no OER materials exist, and curated OER and other publicly-available materials to create supporting texts for class instruction.” - Elizabeth Schniedewind, Sign Language Interpreting

“Within just a few years, this choice to move to OER will literally save our students hundreds of thousands of dollars, and not only that, we are providing a superior experience with convenient and easily-accessible materials that are developed for our particular students and their particular needs." - Jeremy Thomas, Sociology

“I remember the daunting cost of textbooks when I was in school, and it’s an exciting feeling for me to know that I’ve been able to offer the students all of their resources at no cost.” - Mary Van Donsel, Communication Sciences and Disorders

See the ISU Textbook Heroes page for full quotes, and to learn more about the course material affordability work of our 2021 Textbook Heroes.

ISU Instructors interested in learning more about adopting OER in their courses can get guidance from University Libraries to learn more about OER searching or contact the Instructional Technology Resource Center (ITRC) at for course design help. To nominate a future Textbook Hero, look for our next call for nominations in Fall 2022. 


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