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The University of Hartford Physics Department first used open-source textbooks in 2007. Now the algebra-based physics sequence (which is taken by pre-medical students, architects, and other programs) has adopted College Physics by Urone, et al., published through OpenStax. This is a high-quality text that meets all of their needs in a way that really helps their students’ budgets: the OpenStax book is under $50 for hardcover and free as a download. This makes having both a physical book and a e-version practical, an option which is extremely popular with students. The text they are replacing runs over $150 softcover and over $100 for the just e-version so this represents a real change.

While a major motivation was to reduce the costs of materials for students, it soon became clear that these texts were an opportunity to improve those materials as well. College Physics is a well-presented text with solutions manuals, instructor’s materials and PowerPoint slides available. But for Hartford’s faculty the real power is the ability to adapt the text to their needs. Their faculty can legally add material or modify the text to match their existing syllabus and include additional activities centered around their favorite demonstrations and lab experiments. They can also share their changes with instructors at other schools who may want to use these materials. The final result is a class where their materials adapt to their needs and not the other way around.

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