Millie González and her colleagues aren’t here to argue about whether open educational resources are on par with traditional textbooks一she says research has borne that out.

González and Framingham State University, where she is interim director of Whittemore Library, are part of a consortium in Massachusetts looking to answer different questions. Like: What would happen if students had access to a catalog of free and一this is important here一culturally relevant textbooks? What if faculty of color were engaged in the process of creating books tailored to their classes?

“What would be the result for students, specifically students who are from underserved communities?” González says. “Usually when you hear any discussion about free textbooks, it really talks about just the cost, and what we’re saying is, it goes way beyond that.”

Six Massachusetts colleges and universities, alongside the state’s Department of Higher Education, are testing their hypothesis that free, culturally relevant textbooks can improve student performance.

The project, dubbed Remixing Open Textbooks through an Equity Lens, will have help from a three-year $441,000 federal grant. The funds will cover financial support and mentorship for faculty who create new open educational resources (OER for short) or adapt existing open textbooks. The books would be shared among 29 Massachusetts colleges with undergraduate programs.

“We hope to create a model that other states can use for their cultural relevance,” says Jess Egan, coordinator of instructional design at Holyoke Community College, one of the partners. “We’re trying to encourage a model of deliberately constructing or reconstructing OER to fit the needs of your learners and not necessarily just to create a textbook.”

The other institutional partners are Fitchburg State University, Northern Essex Community College, Salem State University and Springfield Technical Community College.

Read the full article about culturally relevant textbooks by Nadia Tamez-Robledo at EdSurge.