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Three Profs Contribute to First Open-Source AP U.S. History Textbook

September 04, 2020

Three Angelo State University professors have joined with other faculty from colleges and universities across the country to produce the first Open Educational Resource digital textbook for U.S. history that aligns with College Board Advanced Placement (AP) standards.

(L to R) Dr. Tony Bartl, Dr. Ken Heineman, Dr. Jason Pierce (L to R) Dr. Tony Bartl, Dr. Ken Heineman, Dr. Jason PierceDr. Tony Bartl, associate professor of political science; Dr. Ken Heineman, professor of security studies; and Dr. Jason Pierce, professor and chair of the ASU History Department, all contributed to the digital textbook titled “Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness: A History of the American Experiment” published through the Bill of Rights Institute.

Bartl contributed essays on the successes of the Great Society, Richard Nixon and Watergate, and media coverage of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. Heineman contributed essays on college campus protests in the 1960s and political backlash in the 1970s. Pierce contributed essays on the Women’s Movement, climate change and fossil fuels, Cesar Chavez and the Latino Civil Rights Movement, and the Rwandan genocide and U.S. foreign policy.

Book cover of Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness textbook Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials that are freely available to everyone in the public domain. They may include textbooks, lesson plans, quizzes, syllabi, instructional modules and other materials. OERs help combat the high cost of educational materials by providing those materials to students, teachers and schools at no expense.

According to the Bill of Rights Institute, “Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness” is an online digital U.S. history textbook for high school students that is based on compelling stories that bring American history to life. It covers from the year 1491 to the present day, and is also:

  • Adaptable for AP U.S. History and college prep U.S. History courses
  • Full of adaptive features, like text highlighting, online note taking, and text-to-speech
  • Adaptable for in-class and remote (virtual) learning
  • Hosted in OpenStax’s Tutor platform

OpenStax is a popular and widely-known source for OER materials. “Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness” is also available through OER Commons, Big Deal Media, other OER platforms and the Bill of Rights Institute.

The College Board AP Program enables academically prepared high school students to pursue college-level studies with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both. “Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness” provides AP U.S. history teachers everywhere a free and easily accessible tool to help prepare their students.

ASU provides a guide for OER producers and users that was founded by Jenny Hock, ASU collection development librarian, and is promoted through the Porter Henderson Library.

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