CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – A West Texas A&M University faculty member is the winner of a $25,000 state grant to develop free, high-quality educational material for students.

Dr. Adam Weiss, an assistant professor of education, is one of six grantees chosen by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in its Open Educational Resources (OER) Grant Program.

The program, according to WTAMU, is meant to support faculty at Texas public institutions of higher education to adopt, modify, redesign, or develop courses that use only OER, or alternative options for materials and textbooks.

OER resources have open licenses from Creative Commons, or are in the public domain, and so they are available to students for no charge and open for faculty to modify them to better suit their courses.

Weiss’ project will focus on a textbook comprised of two parts; the first, used by community college students in an entry-level class, Learning Framework, which is part of the Texas core curriculum and one of the courses most widely transferred to four-year universities in the state. The second half will provide content for introductory education courses, including WT’s Educational Foundations course, as well as covering content featured on Texas teacher certification exams.

“This is an important project in both reducing costs and increasing quality for how we deliver insight and wisdom to our students,” said University President Dr. Walter Wendler. “I am very pleased with this recognition of Dr. Weiss’ good work, and I’m pleased that this project so neatly fits the goals of our long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.”

The text will first provide first-time college students a learning framework. Weiss describes, “A welcome to college, advice on how to adjust to higher education, how to study, some financial literacy information, and even some career exploration information.”

The educational foundation portion of the textbook, “will take what students have learned in the framework course in terms of how people learn and add on classroom management, lesson planning and assessment design,” Weiss said.

The project is expected to be finished in 2023, and would be designed for students to use as they begin college and save for further use in other courses. It would also be free to use, as an OER book.

“Many students who want to be teachers across the state of Texas, both in community colleges and universities, and if students can use OER books, they can save significant amounts of money,” Weiss said. “OER is a great opportunity to help make education a more affordable and more democratic institution, and this project is an exciting way to link community colleges with four-year institutions.”

Weiss will collaborate with Taylor Fairweather-Leitch, a scholarly communications librarian at WT’s Cornette Library, who was recently named a Texas Digital Library OER Ambassador. He also plans to collaborate with other WT faculty members and community college professors.
“Projects like these are great for students from rural and low-income schools, helping them save money while still having access to high-quality materials,” said Dr. Janet Hindman, head of WT’s Department of Education. “We are delighted that Dr. Weiss applied for this proposal and that, as such a young professor, he was given such a prestigious award.”

“As a classroom teacher for nine years, I know the importance of developing strong teachers who are prepared from Day 1,” Weiss said. “I have a passion for developing future teachers and improving their professional capacity.”
Other THECB development grants were awarded to faculty members at Houston Community College, Angelo State University, Tarrant County Community College and South Plains College.