BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY


Dr. Robert Huber with ‘pages’ from his digital Animal Behavior textbook

Dr. Robert Huber with ‘pages’ from his digital Animal Behavior textbook

State honors BGSU biologist with Faculty Innovator Award

Creating a free, online textbook used by students in his Animal Behavior class has earned Dr. Robert Huber, biology, one of the inaugural 10 Faculty Innovator Awards from the University System of Ohio (USO).

Huber and his fellow recipients were honored March 24 in Columbus, where they received the $1,000 cash award for using technological innovation to reduce the cost of textbooks to students. They were recognized by Gov. Ted Strickland and the Ohio House and Senate, as well as by Eric Fingerhut, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.

In addition to the textbook posted at Wikibooks—http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Animal_Behavior—Huber “provides additional course material at no cost to students, including online media and lecture-note archives,” the USO points out in its commendation.

“The material in an animal behavior class is highly visual by its very nature and loses much of its student appeal when it gets reduced to simple lines in a printed textbook,” Huber noted. “A couple of years ago, I began to assemble additional digital media of video samples, sound clips and flash animations on a class Web site.

“I have long been a member of the open-source programming community and thought that the public-domain, open-source idea should apply to textbooks as well,” Huber added. “When the Wikimedia community then initiated its Wikibooks project, things quickly fell into place. I started a text in animal behavior and, with the help of other contributors, it has grown into a project that gives students free, online course material.”

A panel of independent reviewers chose the award recipients; program funding is from the Ohio Learning Network Investment Fund. The network is a consortium of Ohio colleges and universities dedicated to using technology in teaching and learning, as well as promoting shared statewide resources.

“Making college more affordable, including leveraging technology to reduce out-of-pocket textbook costs for students, is a priority of the University System of Ohio,” according to Fingerhut. “We commend the awardees for developing outstanding, affordable materials for their students and wanting to share their 21st-century ideas and practices with others across the system.”

March 30, 2009