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Affordable Course Materials Initiative (ACMI)



In celebration of Open Education Week 2023, the ACMI recognizes Caterina Pieri as our inaugural OER & Affordable Textbook Champion!

Bio:  Caterina Pieri is a Special Lecturer of Italian in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. Caterina has been at OU for 11 years. She created the Italian minor as well as the study abroad program to Trieste, Italy. She has invested countless hours to locate, adapt and develop free high-quality OER resources for her courses, rather than requiring her students to purchase an expensive textbook ($213.95 with access code). In order to do this, she changed her teaching methods and was able to develop the course materials based on her own expertise. She has saved students approximately $20,000 each academic year since 2017. In 2019, she was the recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award.

Please share the title of the book/resource you produced 

What courses do you teach?

  • IT 1140 Intro to Italian Language and Culture I 
  • IT 1150 Intro to Italian Language and Culture II
  • IT 2140 Second Year Italian I
  • IT 2150 Second Year Italian II
  • IT 3160 Conversation and Composition
  • IT 3550 Translation into English
  • IT 3570 Business Communication
  • ML 2900 Italian Language and Culture Study Abroad

Why did you decide to produce open materials/textbooks for your courses?
I believe that anyone should be able to afford to have easy access to excellent higher education materials. My students used to have to purchase an exorbitantly expensive textbook with an online platform for assignments which after the end of the subscription rendered it useless and impossible to resell. Some of them had to wait to get the book or were unable to buy it, compromising their academic success.    
Why did you choose to publish these as OER/open textbooks?
There is nothing proprietary in our academic expertise and knowledge. Ideas are meant to circulate freely.

How has the material been received by students?
Almost all my course reviews mention how much students appreciate my effort to give them free, day-one access to materials that are tailored to their specific needs.

What are the biggest benefits to using OER versus traditional textbooks?
I love the fact that OER are living documents that can be easily edited anytime. This helps me keep my content fresh and accurate. In fact, I believe it gets better every semester. I also add my personal touches, with a bit of humor, or introducing Italian songs I enjoy, or using images, videos and drawings created by my own alumni. I want the OU student population to be represented in the materials.

What has your experience been like developing and publishing open textbooks?
The experience of creating open materials is a constant work-in-progress. I initially used PressBooks to publish, but it has now changed its subscription model, rendering it too expensive. I am presently starting to learn how to use LibreTexts, which will hopefully soon become my new sharing platform.

How has OU supported you in the process?
OU helped me because that’s where I found two excellent co-believers and collaborators, Dikka Berven in my Department and Julia Rodriguez at the Library. They both constantly supported and encouraged me over the past six years. I hope OU takes pride in what the Affordable Course Materials Initiative is achieving and gives it the visibility, relevance, and funding it deserves.    

What is one piece of advice you would give other faculty looking to develop their own open textbook or course materials?
All book searches should start from the library, not from publishers’ representatives. The experts in ACMI will guide you through the process of identifying existing materials for your courses and explain how to adapt, adopt and create in order to make them serve you and your students.