Alternative Textbook Initiative

Announcing the ACU Alternative Textbook Initiative Spring 2019

Proposal form now open!!!


To support ACU faculty in their efforts to replace traditional commercial textbooks with academically equivalent alternatives that are available at no cost to students.

Project Overview

The Provost and the University Library Committee share a concern about textbook affordability and its impact on student success while recognizing that it is the prerogative of faculty to select the course materials that are most appropriate for a class. Through this pilot grant for courses offered in spring 2019, the Provost’s Office is supporting selected faculty to identify and utilize no-cost options for textbooks, including open access textbooks, as long as there is no reduction in the quality of the course. The cost of college textbooks is often a major affordability issue for students, who take on additional loan debt to pay for textbooks or undercut their own learning by forgoing the purchase of textbooks.  Open access textbooks* can offer an affordable, comparable, and sometimes a superior alternative to commercial textbooks.

*Definition of Open Access Textbook: Textbooks that are digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed by members of the ULC, representatives of the library and Innovation Foundry staff. The deadline to submit the proposal is Oct.23, 2018 and notification of award will be by Oct. 26, 2018.

Five $1000 grants will be awarded on the basis of:

  1. Purpose: proposals must plan to replace at least one required textbook with an open access textbook for at least one class. Replacing textbooks that are the course’s primary textbook, or that are required for more than one class, will strengthen the application.
  2. Quality: instructor’s relative confidence in the precision and pedagogy of the alternative textbook.
  3. Efficiency: potential financial savings to ACU students
  4. Scope of Audience: number of ACU students impacted in one semester
  5. Sustainability: ability and intention to utilize the new textbook in the applicant’s future courses
  6. Scalability: potential applicability to sections of the course taught by other faculty
  7. Timeliness: ability to be implemented by Spring Semester 2019.

Projects Not Eligible

  • Ebooks purchased or otherwise licensed by ACU Library.
  • OA Textbooks or other Open Educational Resources (OER) previously used in the faculty member’s existing courses.
  • Courses taught by part-time or adjunct faculty

Academic Support

As with traditional textbooks, searching for and selecting an alternative textbook can be complicated and benefit from the input of colleagues.  There are a number of standard resources for locating Open Access Textbooks, which ACU Librarians have listed here or access the guide here.

Please reach out to to request assistance in finding an appropriate alternative open access textbook, if one exists. If you were not able to attend the information session in the Adams Center or you were and would like to view the slides, click here.

In addition, the  Innovation Foundry ( will assist with the implementation of Open Access textbooks and related course support systems in Canvas. If you are accustomed to using a course management program to assist with assessment (e.g., quizzes) and or discussion/labs, please be aware that there are a number of similar options for Open Access textbooks. We can assist in identifying if a good option exists for your course.

Application Process

Click here to submit proposals that include the following:

  • Course for which you wish to incorporate an open access textbook
  • Title and cost (lowest identifiable new condition) of the textbook that you would like to replace
  • Provide us with the Title and web link to your proposed open access textbook
  • Provide a summary of your interest in doing this project, your background (if any) in working with open access materials, the nature of the course modifications you would like to pursue, and any challenges or barriers you anticipate in carrying out your plans. We are interested in learning about what you would like to do, and the impact of your efforts on this course and/or other courses at the University.
  • Grant recipients will meet once this fall with other faculty participants in order to discuss their plans for the spring semester and will share the results of their efforts during a lunchtime presentation in fall 2019.


Contact The Innovation Foundry at 325-674-2880 or