The University of Massachusetts Amherst

2019 Open Education Initiative (OEI) Grant Recipients

The UMass Amherst Libraries recently announced the recipients of the 2019 Open Education Initiative (OEI) grants. Ten UMass Amherst faculty members received funding for projects to revise or create open educational resources, or OER, defined as teaching materials released with open licenses that allow authors to retain the copyright to their work, while simultaneously granting others permission to revise, remix, and share it.

The Open Education Initiative at UMass Amherst aims to:

  • Lower the cost of college for students in order to contribute to their retention, progression, and graduation
  • Encourage the development of alternatives to high-cost textbooks by supporting the adoption, adaptation, or creation of OER
  • Provide support to faculty to implement these approaches
  • Encourage faculty to engage in new pedagogical models for classroom instruction 

Thanks to generous funding from the UMass Amherst Libraries and Office of the Provost, this year’s winners represent a broad range of disciplines across campus, including Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, Music and Dance, who plans to create an openly-licensed hybrid text/workbook for saxophone technique; Danielle Thomas, Spanish, who is compiling 10 years’ worth of teaching materials into an Advanced Spanish Grammar textbook; and Torrey Trust, Education, who will co-author a textbook with her Teaching and Learning with Technology (EDU 593A) students. Full list of winners here.

“We are seeing more faculty creating customizable teaching tools that are free for students and can also improve how students learn,” said Jeremy Smith, the Libraries’ Open Education & Research Services Librarian; “by utilizing or creating openly licensed teaching materials, instructors are removing a barrier to student success that high-cost textbooks often create.” OER are not appropriate for every class, but “as the number of newly-created OER has drastically increased over the past three years in a wide range of topics, it has become easier to find and customize material for common college courses,” adds Smith.

Now in its tenth cycle, the Open Education Initiative has generated a total savings of over $1.8 million for students in UMass Amherst classes that utilize OER or free Library materials. The Libraries partner with the Institute for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development (TEFD), Instructional Innovation, and Provost’s Office to support these efforts.