Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

John Miller, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Gena D. Southall, Ed.D

Third Advisor

Nicholas K. Langlie, Ph.D.


American Romanticism Online (ARO) is an open educational resource that provides students and teachers with access to annotated primary texts, standards based lesson plans, and other multimedia resources. ARO leverages open source technologies on the WordPress content management platform to create interactive assessments and curricular materials that students and teachers can use, download, and repurpose to fit a variety of classroom situations. The goal of ARO is to create and curate a store of primary sources and curriculum resources based on the needs of classroom teachers in public institutions. Although electronic editions of canonical texts exist, there is no other site currently providing the same combination of annotated primary texts, open curriculum resources and lesson plans, multimedia artifacts, and electronically graded assessments.

According to data collected by the Census Bureau, the average price of educational textbooks has increased by 812% since 1978, more than tripling the rise in the consumer price index, which has increased by 250% since the same date. In an era of budget shortages at both Federal and State levels, these are frightening statistics. The National Association of College Stores claims that the largest percentage of cost associated with publishing traditional paper textbooks is for the actual cost of physical printing. These costs represent a very real barrier for educational institutions facing shrinking budgets since adopting new textbooks every three to four years quickly becomes a cost-prohibitive expense.

However, recent technological innovations and movements in education reform are challenging the supremacy of the traditional paper-based textbook. First, digital distribution methods for textbooks have the ability to virtually eliminate the costs associated with the physical printing of textbooks, the most expensive part of the entire process. Second, reform minded educators in all disciplines at every level have also started to create open educational resources (OER). OER are resources created for educational purposes that are openly shared with members of the educational community. Recent research on the adoption of OER in lieu of traditional paper-based textbooks suggests that implementing digital OER can lower associated costs by as much as 50% (Wiley 262). In addition the nature of the classroom has shifted toward technology integration, with nearly 45% of teachers reporting the use of e-readers and 43% of teachers reporting the use of tablet computers (Purcell 2).

ARO has strategically placed itself at the apex of these important reform movements. While several other publishers of OER simply create open and digitally distributed editions of traditional paper-based textbooks, ARO is dedicated to using technology to extend the functionality of selected texts by providing interactive annotations to enrich students' reading experiences and interactive assessments to streamline teacher workflow in a technology mediated classroom.



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