Butler faculty release new open textbook through PALSave

Book cover with abstract graphic design that reads: Linear Transformations on Vector Spaces, Scott Kaschner and Amber Russell

Two Butler University faculty members have released a new peer-reviewed open textbook through the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI). 

In “Linear Transformations on Vector Spaces,” authors Scott Kaschner, Chair and Associate Professor of Mathematics, and Amber Russell, Associate Professor of Mathematics, set out to redefine the way students learn linear algebra. The book is one of the first to be published with a Textbook Creation Grant from the PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning program, and as an open educational resource—OER—it is entirely free to students. 

About the Book

Unlike conventional linear algebra books that plunge into solving systems of linear equations and the associated procedural skills, Kaschner and Russell’s approach focuses on building a solid conceptual foundation. The book delves into the core elements of vector spaces and linear transformations, paving the way for a richer, more practical mastery of the subject matter.

“Linear Transformations on Vector Spaces” maintains all the key concepts, skills, and applications found in traditional texts but offers students a more meaningful learning experience. The book is tailored for undergraduate linear algebra courses and is designed to facilitate the flipped classroom model.

Key features include:

  • Continuous Narrative: The book provides a continuous narrative that illuminates the big picture, helping students grasp the material’s context and importance.
  • Explorations: Throughout each section, quick “Explorations” are presented. These allow students to actively engage with the material as they read, enhancing comprehension and retention.
  • Section Overviews: Homework assignments and worksheets are included for each section, enabling in-class practice and reinforcement of concepts.

Kaschner and Russell received a PALSave Textbook Creation Grant for the project in 2021. Offered to faculty from PALNI-supported institutions, the grant allows educators to develop open textbooks that are freely available online, making them part of a nationwide effort to reduce the cost of course materials for college students. Financed with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., each grant provides a maximum of $6,500 per project or $5,000 per author. Currently, there are 15 grant-funded titles published or in production through PALNI.

“These authors’ dedication to creating accessible educational resources not only enriches the learning experience for students but also embodies the spirit of knowledge sharing and inclusivity in education,” says Amanda Hurford, PALNI Scholarly Communications Director and PALSave program lead. “It’s a true testament to the positive impact that collaboration and open access can have on higher education. PALNI is grateful to them, and to our funding organization, Lilly Endowment, for enabling us to support them in the process.” 

Project Manager and Butler University Scholarly Communications Associate Cale Erwin and PALNI Publishing Project Coordinator Heather Myers also supported the creation of the book.

“Linear Transformations on Vector Spaces” by Scott Kaschner and Amber Russell is available for free through the PALNI Press. 

Visit PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning online to learn more about Textbook Creation Grants and other OER opportunities offered through PALNI.


About the PALSave Textbook Creation Grant Program

With support from Lilly Endowment Inc., PALNI’s PALSave Textbook Creation Grant Program awards funding to faculty members from PALNI-supported institutions to create open textbooks.

Faculty are periodically invited to submit creation grant proposals for the courses they teach. Textbooks may cover any discipline at the undergraduate or postgraduate level. PALNI seeks proposals for textbooks geared toward specific fields of study that meet the inclusion criteria for the Open Textbook Library. 

The PALNI Open Educational Resource (OER) Publishing Task Force selects projects for funding based on proposal quality, clearly defined goals, need within the current open access body of work, and adoption potential within PALNI schools and beyond.

PALNI coordinates peer review, copyediting, layout, and hosting services to assist grant recipients in their textbook creation. Each textbook is also supported by a local project manager to monitor progress and answer questions throughout development. The open textbooks are published on the PALNI Press-supported Pressbooks platform alongside other faculty-contributed works and are ultimately submitted to the Open Textbook Library and OER repositories.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. More information can be found at www.lillyendowment.org.

About the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana

The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) is a non-profit organization that supports collaboration for library and information services for 24 colleges, universities and seminaries throughout the state. From its inception in 1992, the PALNI collaboration has been a key avenue for its supported institutions to contain costs while providing more effective library services. More recently, PALNI has adopted a model of deep collaboration that pools resources and people as a tool to expand services while keeping costs down. PALNI’s board of directors, composed of all 24 library deans and directors from the supported organizations, convened a Future Framing Task Force in 2019 to address ongoing demographic challenges in higher education. The board has escalated this work in the wake of COVID-19, as the consortium seeks to manage the increased need for online support while reducing costs. Simultaneously, PALNI is expanding collaboration within its institutions and with external library partners to address challenges and build cost-effective services. Visit the PALNI website for more information.

PALNI Supported Institutions

Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary | Anderson University | Bethel University | Butler University | Concordia Theological Seminary | Christian Theological Seminary | DePauw University | Earlham College | Franklin College | Goshen College | Grace College | Hanover College | Huntington University | Manchester University | Marian University | Oakland City University | University of Saint Francis | Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College | Saint Mary’s College | Saint Meinrad’s Seminary and School of Theology | Taylor University | Trine University | University of Indianapolis | Wabash College