Anita Serrano Spanish 001 Open Textbook Project
Anita Serrano, an instructor in Spanish at the Lehigh Valley campus, is the first Penn State faculty member to author an openly-licensed textbook using PressBooks, an easy-to-use book writing software developed out of WordPress. The textbook, which was created for her Spanish I course and used by her students for the first time this spring, had been in the works since summer 2016.
Serrano worked with TLT as part of its Open Educational Resources (OER) faculty engagement initiative.
“An OER book offers the student a threefold benefit: a high-quality book at no cost to the student, ability to tailor and recycle the material to the students, and the value of continual life-learning progression, not just another required course,” Serrano said. “An OER eliminates the artificial limitation of the traditional textbook by constantly improving at no cost to the student while providing updated relevant and practical information.”
Although a traditional textbook has photographs, stories, exercises, and other supplemental information, the information it carries is sometimes more suited for simply testing students’ knowledge for exams, as Serrano said the information tends to be outdated and thus lacks practical content for students.
“To fill this void, I was most of the time making copies, writing exercises, and tailoring content to my students’ needs,” Serrano explained. “Basically, the students pay for a set of pictures, stories, and content that is limited to a semester, because by next semester there is a new edition, more money.”
Serrano worked with faculty from Millersville University and Northampton Community College. In the future, that collaboration will expand, as Serrano said she is currently working on OER books for Spanish II and Spanish III, which she will be collaborating on with instructors from the Penn State New Kensington, Schuylkill, and University Park campuses.