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Open Educational Resources (OER): WSU Library OER Initiative

Open Access Textbooks, Journals, Online Courses and other free online educational & scholarly materials.

Our First OER Grant

To ameliorate the heavy financial burden of textbook purchases, the WSU Library was awarded a $10,000 grant from Reach Out for Schools, a local non-for-profit that supports innovative educational initiatives. With this grant, we initiated the WSU Library Open Educational Resources Initiative which will fund ten $1,000 mini-grants supporting faculty who redesign courses based around open educational resources, as opposed to higher-priced, conventionally published textbooks. The initiative aims to increase instructional effectiveness while lowering costs for students.

How will grants be awarded?

Grant proposals will be reviewed by a selection committee comprised of representatives of the library and other campus faculty and staff interested in supporting open educational resources. Grants will be awarded on the basis of: 
  • Strength of application in response to questions
  • Potential savings to Worcester State University students
  • Sustainability of the project to applicant's future courses
  • Implementation date by Spring 2017

WSU OER Review Committee Members

  • Rosemary Ahmadi (IT)
  • Matt Bejune (Library)
  • Sue Foo (Center for Teaching & Learning)
  • Vicki Gruzynski (Library)
  • Shu Qian (Library)
  • Angela Quitadamo (Retention Office)
  • Kristina Rearick (Institutional Research)

Winners of WSU OER mini-grant

Winner(s) Department
Elizabeth Siler, Miriam Plavin-Masterman Business and Economics
Henry Theriault Philosophy
Alex Briesacher Sociology
Michael Shamgochian Business and Economics
William Hansen Eart, Environmental Science, and Physics
Adrienne Smyth Biotechnology
Elizabeth Osborne World Language
Sam O'Connell Visual and Performing Arts
Linda Hixon History and Political Science
Sebastian Velez Biology



Additional Information

* What are Open Educational Resources?
Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that are free of cost and access barriers, and which also carry legal permission for open use. Generally, this permission is granted by use of an open license (for example, Creative Commons licenses) which allows anyone to freely use, adapt and share the resource—anytime, anywhere. “Open” permissions are typically defined in terms of the “5R’s”: users are free to Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and Redistribute these educational materials. (Description from
* Why are we doing this? 
The cost of educational resources, including but not limited to textbooks, is a major expense for many WSU students. Nationally, the average college student spends $1,200 per year on textbooks. A recent report by the U.S. Public Research Interest Group ( documents some of the ways costs affect student learning. According to the report, 65% of students skipped purchasing a textbook due to cost. Nearly all of the students who had foregone purchasing a textbook were concerned that their choice would hurt their grade. Nearly half said the cost of textbooks impacted how many and which classes they took each semester. A substantial majority, 82%, said they would do significantly better in a course if the textbook was available for free online and buying a hard copy was optional. 
Many libraries have sponsored the creation of open educational resources to address cost and access barriers to education. Our project is modeled after the UMass Library Open Education Initiative, a project that has saved students over $1 million since it began in Spring 2011.
* Will this grant only fund textbook creation?
No, open educational resources include a great variety of educational materials including syllabi, content modules, assignments, simulations, learning objects, labs, articles, E-books, art galleries, audio/visual libraries, software, calculators, analytics, etc.
* How many proposals will be awarded?
Ten proposals will be funded.
* What if I want to collaborate with someone?
There is a maximum of a $1,000 award per application. The amount will be divided equally among applicants. Example: Two faculty plan to collaborate on one course. If the proposal is accepted, each applicant will be awarded $500.
* Is this award taxed?
Yes, we anticipate the awards will be taxed.
* Can I submit more than one application?
Multiple applications may be submitted, but only one per person will be funded. Example: A faculty member submits applications for three different courses. Even if all are excellent proposals, only one will be funded.
* What if I have never taught this course before?
You are still eligible to submit a proposal for a course that you have not taught yet. 
* What if there are not enough applications?
We will be able to fund up to ten applications this fall. If we do not receive enough qualified applications, there will be a second call for proposals in Spring 2017 for courses running in Fall 2017. However, no more than ten awards will be given for this funding cycle.
* Will there be a second round of funding in the future?
We hope so. We intend to build on the success of the first round of funding and ask for further support.
* If my proposal is successful, how will I be compensated?
The award will be distributed in two parts. The first half will be awarded before the start of the semester when the course is scheduled to run. The second half will be released upon completion of the applicant's proposed action plan and assessment activities.
* What if my proposal is funded, but the course is under-enrolled and not offered in Spring 2017?
Ideally, funded proposals will be associated with classes running in the Spring 2017 semester. However, if a course is cancelled, we hope to reserve funding for when the course runs during the Fall 2017 semester.