Electromagnetics Volume 1 (Beta): Virginia Tech’s Newest Open Textbook

VT Publishing and the University Libraries of Virginia Tech are pleased to announce publication of a second, new open textbook: Electromagnetics Volume 1 (Beta). (You can read about the first open textbook in an earlier blog post.) The textbook is in “beta” for a Virginia Tech course in Spring 2018 and will be revised and re-released with LaTeX source code, problem sets, and solutions in Summer 2018.

Electromagnetics Volume 1 (Beta) by Steven W. Ellingson is a 224 page, freely available, peer-reviewed, full color, print and digital open educational resource. It is intended to serve as a primary textbook for a one-semester first course in undergraduate engineering electromagnetics within the third year of a bachelor of science degree program.

Cover image of Electromagnetics textbook
Cover design: Robert Browder; Cover image: (c) Michelle Yost. Total Internal Reflection (cropped by Robert Browder) is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

The book is the work of Steven W. Ellingson, Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech, in collaboration with the Scholarly Communication office of Virginia Tech’s University Libraries and VT Publishing. As collaborators with Ellingson, the University Libraries provided grant funding, overall project management, guidance on open licensing, attribution, student works, formats and styles, managed development and production processes, coordinated peer review, reviewed manuscripts (editorial and technical), provided technical specifications, and navigated print and distribution solutions.

A no cost downloadable version of Electromagnetics Volume 1 (Beta) is available here. A full color softcover printed version (ISBN: 978-0-9979201-2-3) is available at the cost of production and shipping from Amazon.com.

The LaTeX authored text includes extensive use of mathematical equations, figures, adapted, and custom-created and openly licensed diagrams, worked and narrative examples. This book employs the “transmission lines first” approach, one of three approaches to teaching electromagnetics. However, other teaching approaches may find the work relevant, since its release under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license legally allows addition, adaptation (with required attribution), and redistribution of content. The resulting work is of significant value in opening new possibilities for teaching and learning: Electromagnetics Volume 1 (Beta) by Ellingson is the first known openly licensed textbook for electromagnetics.

Logo for the Creative Commons license Attribution Share-Alike

Electromagnetics Volume 1 (Beta) will be field tested in Virginia Tech’s ECE3106 Electromagnetic Fields course in Spring 2018, and then revised and re-released in Summer 2018 as a text adoptable for courses beyond Virginia Tech. LaTeX source files, problem sets, and solutions will be released contemporaneously in Summer 2018. The editor and author of this book encourage feedback from individuals, classes, and faculty viewing this book. Feedback and suggestions may be contributed using the online annotation tool Hypothes.is, via a feedback form, or by emailing publishing@vt.edu. A Volume 2 and combined Volumes 1 & 2 are planned.

The intent of creating a remixable book for both internal use and free public release exemplifies trends within the Open Education movement and in higher education in general. These trends mirror aspects of the open source software movement and include public sharing under open licenses which allow contributions and adaptation (such as Creative Commons licenses), rewarding, valuing, and incorporating new ideas pertaining to teaching and learning, building collaborative faculty networks across multiple institutions, giving credit where due, and involving students as active contributors to course goals and/or the work of curricula and course design. Free public access is a start, but the possibilities for faculty, students, and others to create, openly license and share, freely adopt, adapt with attribution, and build open source systems for adaptation and sharing expand meaningful possibilities far beyond free access. These freedoms bode well for expansion of purposeful and engaging teaching and learning, the ability to leverage academic freedoms for broad, positive impacts on the common good, thoughtful conversations about ethics, incentives, voice, and access in the academy, and the advancement of innovative pedagogical practices and publicly available scholarly research which are already beginning to bear fruit.

I hope that many other faculty and institutions will take advantage of opportunities to create, adopt, adapt, and share openly licensed materials to fit their needs, the distinctive teaching and learning challenges and opportunities in their disciplines, the needs of their students, and beyond.

This textbook is part of the Open Electromagnetics Project led by Steven W. Ellingson at Virginia Tech. The goal of the project is to create no-cost openly-licensed content for courses in undergraduate engineering electromagnetics. The project is motivated by two things: lowering learning material costs for students and giving faculty the freedom to adopt, modify, and improve their educational resources.

Publication of this book was made possible in part by the Virginia Tech University Libraries’ Open Education Faculty Initiative Grant program which is led by Anita Walz, Scholarly Communication office, at the University Libraries, Virginia Tech. The goal of the grants program is to to encourage the use, creation, and adaptation of openly licensed information resources to support student learning. The author also thanks VT Publishing colleagues for their many contributions.

For more information on the origins of Creative Commons licenses, watch the short video “Get Creative: Being the Origins and Adventures of the Creative Commons Licensing Project” or visit the Creative Commons website.

About the author of Electromagnetics Volume 1 Beta: Steven W. Ellingson is an Associate Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, United States. He received PhD and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from The Ohio State University and a BS in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Clarkson University. He was employed by the US Army, Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Raytheon, and The Ohio State University ElectroScience Laboratory before joining the faculty of Virginia Tech, where he teaches courses in electromagnetics, radio frequency systems, wireless communications, and signal processing. His research includes topics in wireless communications, radio science, and radio frequency instrumentation. Professor Ellingson serves as a consultant to industry and government and is the author of Radio Systems Engineering (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

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About Anita Walz

I am the Open Education, Copyright, and Scholarly Communication Librarian at Virginia Tech. I work with students, staff, faculty, and administrators and on a national level to inspire faculty to choose, adapt, and create learning resources which are more accessible to students. I am also the library's liaison for Economics, Mathematics, and Legal Studies. My work experience includes over 15 years in international, government, and academic libraries. My research interests include: economics of higher education, library involvement in open educational resource initiatives, library publishing, and effective teaching practices for college-age and adult learners.
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