The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Archive: 15/09/2021

The UMass Amherst Libraries recently announced the recipients of their 2021 Open Education Initiative (OEI) grants. Three UMass Amherst instructors received funding to adopt, adapt, or create open educational resources (OER). OER are teaching materials released with an open license, which allows for their free revision and redistribution with attribution to the creator of the original work.

The Open Education Initiative at UMass Amherst aims to:

  • 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
  • Lower the cost of college for students in order to contribute to their retention, progression, and graduation
  • Encourage faculty to engage in new pedagogical models for classroom instruction

Thanks to generous funding from the Provost’s office, this year’s winners represent a broad range of disciplines across campus:

  • Elkie Burnside, Assistant Director, Writing Program,  for the creation of two open education resources (OER) to share and circulate student work as scholarship through the UMass Amherst Libraries’ Pressbooks instance and ScholarWorks@UMassAmherst, the campus’ institutional repository. Her College Writing course will impact nearly 5,000 students this fall.
  • Rodrigo Zamith, Associate Professor, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, for the development of an open education textbook in Journalism to enable a more discussion-oriented class and permit more time for active learning.
  • Meghan Graham MacLean, Lecturer of Quantitative Ecology, for the creation of a free resource tailored to the needs of students in the NRC and ENVISCI undergraduate programs in Environmental Conservation (ECo) Department at UMass.

“We are seeing more and more faculty wanting to create customizable teaching tools that are not only free for students, but can also improve how students learn,” says Jeremy Smith, the Libraries’ Daniel Ellsberg Archivist and former Open Education and 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 college courses.”

Now in its twelfth cycle, the Open Education Initiative has generated a total savings of more than $1.8 million for students in UMass Amherst classes that utilize either OER or existing Library materials. The Libraries partner with the Provost's Office, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), and the Instructional Design, Engagement, & Support (IDEAS) group to support these efforts.

For further information, please contact UMass Amherst Libraries Digital Scholarship Services at dss@umass.libanswers.com.