“Vanguard: Exercises for the Creative Writing Classroom” is written and edited by three doctoral students in the Texas Tech University Department of English.
RAIDER Publishing, the open textbook publishing effort through the Texas Tech University Libraries, has its first book under contract: a peer-reviewed creative-writing text authored and edited by Texas Tech students.
"Vanguard: Exercises for the Creative Writing Classroom," is a series of exercises for those teaching creative-writing classes, written and edited by three doctoral students in the Texas Tech Department of English – Jasmine V. Bailey Epstein, Kate Osana Simonian and Jess Smith.
"Because the nature of graduate study is so often that we are taking courses while also teaching them, we often are churning out innovative pedagogy based on inspirations and observations from the multiple classroom roles we play," Smith said. "Particularly with creative writing, I think it's exciting to see the workshop model shifting and expanding, and the graduate instructors in 'Vanguard' have offered exercises that will heighten any workshop experience."
The authors' dual roles as both students and instructors were vital to their approach in the book.
"Like so many of our students, especially nontraditional students, which I consider myself, we have to manage two jobs simultaneously and often have the fewest resources to work with," Epstein said. "We hope this book will be a resource every Texas Tech English graduate student instructor is aware of and one they can access effortlessly to help them through the challenge of teaching a class for the first time, or when any of the struggles of teaching arise."
Simonian said "Vanguard" – the first open-access publication she's been involved in – is exciting for reasons beyond the technological implications.
"To not only be taken seriously as writers and teachers, but also as teachers of pedagogy, is vindicating," Simonian said. "It's a thrill to be on the cutting edge of innovative practice and sharing with the world what goes on in the classrooms of those who are often the most enthusiastic teachers of writing. That feels rare. And to involve Texas Tech in such an opportunity is the proverbial icing on the cake."
The peer-reviewed book is expected to be available digitally in Spring 2020.
The University Libraries started RAIDER Publishing in 2017 after recognizing a need to offer opportunities for affordable, open, quality academic publishing. The initial setup process, led by former Digital Publishing Librarian Jessica Kirschner, included writing the contract that authors sign, facilitating the call for proposals and pursuing a grant from the Texas Tech Alumni Association to support open-access publishing.
Now under the care of Digital Services Librarian Heidi Winkler, the program is being revamped to focus solely on open-access textbook and open educational resource publishing rather than on textbooks that will cost students money to use.
"I have always viewed my role as a librarian as a matchmaker," Winkler said. "It's my job to facilitate the 'meet-cute' between a patron and the information they need for success. Now, I'm making meet-cutes happen between our patrons and their own work. I'm excited and inspired to be able to work with our campus community to create and curate the kind of resources that are most useful to the community."
Not only a reference to Texas Tech's nickname, the Red Raiders, the acronym in RAIDER Publishing also helps to define the sort of texts in which the program specializes.
- Refereed. Prior to publication, subject specialists review each text to ensure high quality.
- Affordable. Texts are either free or sold at low cost.
- Instructor-created. Texts are created by Texas Tech faculty for Texas Tech classes.
- Digital. Texts are available as a PDF, e-book or website, with possible print-on-demand options.
- Resources. Materials are intended to be used in classes.
"The current publishing model for academic resources is pricing the average student out of the market, and as such, the open education resource (OER) movement is on the rise in academia," Winkler explained. "More and more, academic libraries are hiring experts in the field of scholarly communication to facilitate the discovery, use and creation of open resources. OER can relieve some of the financial burden of attending college for students, plus the digital nature of these resources allows both teachers and students to explore what's possible in educational technology. As digital services librarian, I'm excited to explore those possibilities with our campus community."