Mont Alto teacher creates online open educational resource manual


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania — Engineering professor Jacob Moore’s curriculum is truly an open book.

Moore began his career at Penn State Mont Alto in 2013 as an assistant professor, but began working on an OER (open educational resource) in 2011 while a student at Virginia Tech. He used a grant from the National Science Foundation to put the content of a statics course chapter on the site.

A March 2017 article in Education Week stated that OER encompasses material to be taught or learned that is either in the public domain or has been released under a license that allows it to be freely used, modified, or shared.

In 2014, Moore’s online tool included all of his statics chapters. Then he expanded it from summer 2017 to fall 2018 to include lessons in engineering dynamics with the help of a grant from Penn State.

“Basically, I have an open textbook,” said Moore, who earned a doctorate in engineering education from Virginia Tech in 2013. He earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech in 2012 after completing a program degree in 2008 in the same field at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Moore shared that many concepts for engineering courses such as statics and dynamics haven’t changed much in 150 years; the online tool allows him to present them in his own words.

“All content is original content,” he said.

Called Mechanics Map Digital Textbook, Moore’s site contains written explanations, video lectures, worked examples and homework problems. The Licensed Materials are free to online visitors to use, share or work on. They include a table of contents with links to all available topics, as well as information for those wishing to learn more about the project in general.

Countless hours have been spent perfecting the online manual.

“I’m not trying to sell anything,” Moore said. “I feel like a lot of information should be accessible. I want that information there. It’s definitely a labor of love.

Moore is the only one presenting the lectures, but the worked examples feature him and other instructors and students who have excelled in engineering courses.

The videos also provided Moore with the opportunity to support campus diversity, equity and inclusion efforts by featuring women and students of color. “Engineering has always lagged behind other fields in terms of diversity. It’s still an area that’s dominated by white men,” Moore said. “In any given year, I can only have one woman or student of color in my class, which can partly be attributed to class size and the lack of diversity in our area. It’s a subtle way of providing role models for students in situations like this.

Feedback from users of the material has been positive, praising it for presenting the lessons in a down-to-earth manner, without flowery writing.

“I don’t write complicated prose,” Moore said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced classes online, Moore said he didn’t have as much time to work on his project because he had to move all of his immediate course materials to the virtual realm. But he has also seen an increase in the number of students using his site.

“COVID has really pushed more people to switch to OER,” said Moore, who has noticed an increase in traffic since he started the project.

Using Google Analytics, he said that in the 30 days leading up to a May 19, 2022 interview about his work, there were 11,000 visits to his site. Most were from the United States, but the site also saw high user traffic in Canada, India, and Australia.

Outside the United States, instructors in Canada, Malaysia, India, and Australia have requested the solution manual for homework problems on Moore’s mechanical map digital manual, implying that they use his problems in class.

He is aware that more than 20 classrooms use his site, some on other Penn State campuses and elsewhere. Among the non-Penn State users is the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and teaching associate professor Agnes d’Entremont contributed content to Moore’s site.

Moore contacted d’Entremont through the American Society for Engineering Education and met her at an ASEE conference. They keep in touch via email and Zoom.

Moore said his open textbook was not finished. He hopes to expand the problem sets worked on and add content from his course on the strength of materials.

“I want to keep refining and developing,” he said.

To see Moore’s open manual, go to


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