Free Online Anatomy Textbook To Save Students Over $400,000


Thanks to dozens of collaborators from the University of Hawaii System, a free online textbook for two popular anatomy and physiology courses – Physiology 141 and 142 – will replace the textbook that was used by nearly 4,700 students in the past academic year for an estimated total savings of over of $433,000. The various textbooks currently used for these courses cost between $160 and $210. The new manual should be ready for the fall of 2023.

Kapiʻolani Community College Assistant Professor Sheryl shook and old uh Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Hae Okimoto worked with 37 professors, including 11 co-authors, out of the 10 uh campus on multi-year online educational resource (OER) project.

Shook is the author of The science of sleep OER textbook, which she uses to teach lectures and lab classes. She’s a big fan of saving student money through OER.

“Students tell us that they have to choose between buying food or a textbook. This creates an opportunity gap, not just an achievement gap, with a huge impact on student achievement,” she said. “Look at the data on which students are least likely to buy the book. You’ll see that the high cost of textbooks is a form of institutional racism, so I’m so grateful to our administrators and faculty for supporting OER.”

Shook praised all of the faculty involved, especially the co-authors, who had to shift gears in April 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The team’s planned “book sprint” went entirely online into uncharted territory, which increased the time it took to write it.

“It was one of the most intense things I’ve ever done,” she recalls. “It was really tough, but the team I worked with, they care so much about the students.”

Indigenized and localized content

Many people zoom screen
OER Members of the team

The Content team Indigenized and localized to give Hawaii students a sense of connection. Their efforts have impressed the book production company they work with. According to Shook, Book Sprints, a company that makes it easy to create books, said it’s never worked with someone who’s written so much original content.

The team is in the process of collecting and curating all images for the book and auxiliary tools. The work is extensive, as the visuals cover body systems, general anatomy, and microscopic images. Some key team members in this effort are:

  • Amanda Alimboyoguenwho teaches anatomy and physiology to Kapiʻolani CC and leads the ancillary development project (course slides, study guides, homework questions, etc.) for the textbook.
  • Rachel Lindseywho teaches anatomy and physiology to Kapiʻolani CC and creates the course shells (starting structures) that will be integrated into the manual.
  • Lynley Shimat Lyswhich is a uh Manoa PhD graduate, directs the OER image curation effort and also creating tools for students such as interactive quizzes and drag and drop activities for each chapter.

Free in fall 2023

The goal is to have the manual completed by May 2023, then do professional development with dozens of instructors across the uh System since anatomy and physiology text is used in prerequisite courses for most programs in nursing, medicine, pharmacology, dental hygiene, X-ray technician, physical therapist, physical therapy assistant, and respiratory therapist, as well as some biological sciences.

Shook said, “The hope is that this is a best practice so we can share it with people around the world.”

She also recommends the UHCC OER website as a resource for finding a campus OER prospects, information on OER 101 (an asynchronous online course) and more.

-By Kelli Abe Trifonovitch

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